Mon Community Leaders Building Drug-Treatment Center for Youth

By Lawi Weng 8 January 2019

Mon community leaders plan to build a rehabilitation center for drug-addicted youth in Ye Township, Mon State, Mon sources said.

The New Mon State Party (NMSP) donated 3 acres of land to house the care center. Committee members used a bulldozer to begin clearing the land, and started work on laying water pipes. They said they hoped to complete the structure soon.

A 45-person committee comprising 15 members of the NMSP, 15 Mon Buddhist monks and 15 other members of the local community will operate the center as long-term project.

“After we build the center, we will take care of [drug addicts] for free here. When they get better, we will even educate them,” said Nai Tin Shein, a leading member of the working committee.

“It is a long-term project. We do not have enough money, but will keep working on this project. We will rely on donations from the Mon community. The NMSP will provide medics to take care of patients,” he said.

The project needs funds to cover staff’s salaries and the cost of medicine. Mon Buddhist monks and community leaders have offered to cover those costs.

“Projects like this are really the responsibility of the government, but they don’t do it. So, we have to help our ethnic people,” Nai Tin Shein said.

Illegal drugs—particularly methamphetamines—pose a serious threat to the community in Mon, with addiction becoming an increasing problem among youth. Families of drug addicts don’t know where to send their loved ones in order to start a new life. Therefore, Mon leaders felt they had to do something to save the community, according to committee members.

“It is mainly youths that are at risk from illegal drugs in our community. They are the future Mon leadership. Therefore, we must help them. If we do not, this disease will get worse,” Nai Tin Shein said.

He said one reason for the problem was that many Mon youth were unemployed despite having graduated from university. Seeing no future for themselves, some turned to methamphetamine use.

The center currently under construction is some distance from other Mon townships including Mudon, Thanbyuzayat, and Moulmein, but Nai Tin Shein said most communities balked at the idea of allowing a center for drug addicts in their midst. Therefore, the committee had to build it in an NMSP-controlled area.

Nai Tin Shein said the Mon State government had failed to take care of substance abusers. He said that hundreds of ethnic Mon were addicted to illegal drugs and in need of treatment, but the only public facility was a small treatment room at Moulmein Hospital.

The new center will offer free treatment and facilities to drug addicts including food, medical treatment and a hostel. It will also provide education about the dangers of illegal drugs.

The Mon community’s business, education and many other sectors have been badly affected, said Nai Aung Htoo, another committee member.

The illegal drug situation in the Mon community was already at a crisis level, he said, adding that the problem had spread to public schools.

He also criticized police, saying their crackdown on illegal drugs in Mon State targeted only drug users, while drug traffickers escaped arrest.