By: Carril Desrosiers, Freelance Journalist, Port-au-Prince
As is known, Haitian street children are prey to a multitude of pests, which descend on them without respite. The issue of drugs ranks prominent among these.
Hard drugs, soft drugs, no matter what it is exactly, all is destined to be consumed. With the evidence at hand, one has to ask the following questions: Why do street children dope themselves? What types of narcotics do they consume? Where and how do they get them? And what are the immediate results on their life and on the society in general?
Until now, no specialized literature exists relating to this facet of the life of these children. This prevents one from having valid and reliable figures. However, through direct observation and based on investigations led by certain charitable institutions, such as "Foyer Lakay," a picture emerges. Four children out of eight confess their addiction to narcotics or dope: cocaine, marijuana, sansimilia, thinner, or the glue used by shoemakers.
In the book entitled "Lakay, un Foyer pour les Enfants des Rues" (Lakay, a home for street children), produced by UNICEF, Frantz Lofficial stated that these poor children, living in misery and daily hopelessness, easily fall in the trap of drugs and become their unfortunate victims.
Pierre-Richard Jediné, based at the Champs de Mars, said that he no longer uses those substances. "They cause more pain than good feelings," he underlined. He said that the inhalation of shoemakers glue causes serious damage to the user’s cerebral system. Five gourdes is enough to buy it. The person, after having consumed it, becomes mentally unstable, lost or deaf to everything and starts to commit crimes and dishonest acts.
Kenson Hilaire, also from the Champs de Mars, supported this statement by showing the presence of people around him taking cocaine. He pointed out a fellow called "Ti Bob," the eldest and, frankly, the big chief of the cartel. "He only steals and carries out sordid crimes to have money and buy drugs. Often he becomes violent, furious like a wild cat and attacks the youngest," said Hilaire. Ti Bob currently lives in the bushes and is wanted by the police.
According to the residents of the Champ de Mars, the "Pigeon Place" is where drugs transactions take place. The addicts conceal the narcotics by rolling it in tobacco leaves.
With a sad and depressed look, a container of Juna full of thinner in his hands, Adler Jean of Rue des Fronts-Forts said that he is always on the look-out for ecstatic sensation and drowsiness. According to him, the thinner works as a sleeping drug. Some minutes of inhalation and he forgets his misfortune and detaches himself from his physical environment.
According to Reverend Father Attilo Stra from Foyer Lakay, such use destroys children’s health and makes them filthier than those who do not take drugs.
Addicts compensate their lack of hard drugs (cocaine), which are too expensive, by acquiring marijuana. Less importantly, sansimilia is used, which is easy to find. In exchange for rendering a minor service for a vendor, a smoker receives a "joint" costing 5 gourdes depending on the quality and the availability of the market.
Patrick St.-Fort, living and interviewed at the gate of the Magic Dry Cleaning of Rue du Centre, explained that drugs put him in an absolute carefree attitude and helps him to forget even himself.
John Kilove, a child of 16 years old, living in the Rue des Cesars, compared drugs to the devil. That is why he does not take them. He thinks that they provoke paranoia which can be followed by madness.
Baby Dorisma of the base "Cathedral" of Port-au-Prince told that drugs is something that he consumes daily. He energetically defended marijuana and sansimilia and recommended their complete legalization. He added that originally they are natural plants.