Mexico Trek!   Trekkers DISPATCH: September 2 Silvia's Log

Kids and Glue — No Easy Answers

Holding a painting made today by one of the kidsIt’s saddening for me to see the children drugged each morning when I have a full stomach from breakfast and they’re high on chemicals to fool their hunger. Actually, they come to prefer drugs to food altogether, and they don’t feel their hunger anymore. They’re constantly pouring the strong-smelling liquid into a wad of tissue wrinkled up in their palm, and they do this openly as I try to talk with them. They aren’t even embarrassed about it and don’t care. The drug has become a part of their life. My housemate tells me that when a child tries a drug for the first time, it captures their attention and then they want a stronger dose afterwards, or a different drug. As long as there is money, there are going to be drugs.

The street kids know about anti-drug campaigns and have received education about drug abuse and their options for quitting. However, they don’t listen anymore. A few of them understand that drug use is harmful but their addiction is too strong to quit, but whatever they are told enters one ear and goes out the other. Some only understand how bad the drugs can be when they have an accident, get sick, paralyzed from being hit by a car while stoned, etc., only when it’s too late already. Silvia and friends.Even when another street child dies from an overdose, the others are not affected because all they’re thinking about is getting high.

I wonder if banning certain drugs is going to really have a noticeable effect on anything. It’s a big and corrupt business. People make profits from selling drugs, and they’re not going to stop just because a government declares it illegal to sell them, or because one of the drugs is changed so it’s not harmful. I think the key is to focus on why are there street children in the first place?

Why did these children leave their homes? Usually their families are poor with inadequate means for sustaining themselves, and the children are sent out to work. Many parents who abuse their children are uneducated and illiterate, living in poor neighborhoods outside of the cities, those shantytowns that border huge metropolises. The government cannot resolve the problem alone because it is of such huge, economic dimensions, and the government gives few resources for street educators and teacher training.

The first priority should be to stop the existence of street children. Resources should be used to create alternative programs such as Casa Alianza to provide information and help. Or perhaps the companies that make the drugs should devote some of their money to helping these children. They know their products are being abused by youth, but what are they doing about it?

"I want to take advantage of my stay here at Casa Alianza. I have a communication here that I never had before. Here they help us, get us back into school, give us a place to live, first in group homes and later even through independent living."
Maria Isabel Mendoza Castro, 13 years old


Related Dispatches: 
Silvia - Glue: Kids in Mexico Share Their Thoughts
Team - A poem from the streets
Silvia - Kids and Glue - No Easy Answers

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