As we, in Pakistan joined the world community to commemorate International Day Against Drug Use and Illicit Trafficking or World Drug Day, the Karim Khan Afridi Welfare Foundation organized an interactive, awareness – raising, knowledge-building activity focused on highlighting prevention education for young students from Schools in Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Sunday June 26th at the Rose and Jasmine Garden, Islamabad. Despite the summer heat, over 150 students and teachers, along with community members and friends of KKAWF engaged in art and sports activities to channel youth energies and build protective factors to learn the importance of saying NO to Drugs. The students painted colourful posters and enacted charades to express their learnings around the menace of drug use.
Drug use is taking a heavy toll on youth especially students in Pakistan and fueling a life of addiction and crime in the country. It is a bitter fact that a huge number of the young generation in Pakistan use narcotics, in particular in educational settings. A rapid increase in drug addiction among students of academic institutions has emerged as a serious social problem confronting the contemporary Pakistani society that constitutes one of the highest proportions of young people in the world. With an estimated 9 million drug users and 4 million addicts in Pakistan, according to projections by the Ministry of Narcotics Control, the bulging youth population of 130 million boys and girls under 30 – 64% of the population in Pakistan will be hard hit by the rise in use of drugs.
Speaking at the well-attended event, Cristina von Sperling Afridi, Chairperson KKAWF emphasized that concentrating on prevention awareness and knowledge is the only safeguard for the community and only alternative for the youth to build a system of self-defence which protects them from getting trapped in the world of drugs. The more aware the youth are of the wide range of issues surrounding drugs, the better chance they have of preventing its spread.
“It is time that we in Pakistan should collectively focus on the power of prevention to educate our school going teenagers on the dangers of indulging in the use of recreational drugs”, she added.
She highlighted that if no action is taken, the number of drug addicts around the world is expected to increase from 276 million, in the coming years, to over 300 million drug users in 2030 as noted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). With half a million people losing their life to drugs in 2019 – and projected to grow in countries with high population growth, like Pakistan. it is time to measure the way we are heading, she added. Removing stigma, raising awareness and amplifying the urgency of drug prevention education is a must if Pakistan wants to win the war on drugs.
Why we need Drug Prevention Education?
The pollution of Korang River 22 kms in length is of continuing concern as it flows into Rawal Lake, it is contaminated by effluent from abbadis and factories without septic tanks along its course. The water principal in Rawal Lake is the source of drinking water for the population of Rawalpindi.
According to Rawalpindi Medical University, in 2019, Pakistan was the second worse affected hepatitis country in the world, and thousands of patients are added every year with waterborne diseases.
Concerned with the pollution of the water and waste along the shore of Korang River, a group of environmentalists, KKAWF initiated a clean-up drive of the Korang River in 2015. Keep Korang Clean 2 was organized in 2020 with over 200 students from many public and private schools.
In continuation of their efforts to draw attention to the quality of water flowing into Rawal Dam, KKAWF together with students of various schools from Islamabad, Banigala, and the local community once again joined hands to clean up the portion of the River just before its entry into Rawal Lake.
The aim was to keep the environment clean and to be able to promote water sports e.g. rowing – to engage youth living in the vicinity.
With the help of 40 volunteers supervisors and 240 students, accompanied by teachers / Tutors, local community, and the media, the participants will be collecting trash along two sides, 500 meters of the river bank. This 500 Meters area is located in a secure compound.
The objective was to create environment consciousness in girls and boys from Public and Private Schools with different social background to interact and share the common goal, which is to keep waters clean and not to litter.
The volunteers aged between 12 to 19 years. Each team will consist of 10 students, who picked garbage with sticks and gloves supplied by KKAWF, and put in garbage bags, and the cleaning operation lasted for two hour. It followed by brief speeches by Mrs. Cristina von Sperling Afridi (Chairperson KKAWF), Malik Amin Aslam (Federal Minister of Climate Change) who graced the occasion as Guest of Honour and Mr. Asad Hayauddin (Federal Secretary, Economic Affair Division). The Guest of Honour distributed the certificates and prizes to the winning team and also distributed prizes among the runner up team and the participants. Pehli Kiran School won the first prize while Ali Trust College was runner-up.
KKAWF distributed caps, T-shirts, gloves, spikes, masks and refreshments amongst the competitors. Walls provided ice cream while Tapal provided tea for all the participants. Tents and chairs were available for the comfort and protection of the participants. The CDA Staff and the sanitation staff also participated in the cleaning activity.
The participating school will gather at their designated places among the 12 stations on the venue. Each school will carry out cleaning activities around its allotted boundaries. Each station will be divided into 12 students, one supervisor, one teacher and a sanitary worker.