New Hope for Dhaka’s Glue-Addicted Street Children

Selling scraps of garbage to get by, many of Dhaka’s nearly 250,000 street children sniff glue to cope with their circumstances. One organisation is dedicated to giving them new hope for the future.

While a handful of non-governmental organisations in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka work to assist the city’s quarter-million street children, only one is dedicated specifically to the needs of those addicted to drugs.

The Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM) has for 12 years been running a comprehensive program involving free meals, counselling, hygiene, healthcare and education. The kids who come to DAM suffer from a range of drug addictions—including to Dandy, a cheap and legal glue frequently sniffed out of bags or adhesive-soaked rags.

“After being kicked and treated like a dog, it gives you peace,” said Rubel, an 11-year-old rag picker, describing why he uses Dandy.

Kazi Ali Reza, DAM’s director of communications, said that 60 percent of kids who come to DAM abuse Dandy. To date, the organisation has rehabilitated 2,500 addicted kids, according to a recent report on their programming in The Wire.

“They have a family here,” said DAM centre manager Mohammad Asaduzzaman, referring to the many youth who have run away from their families, been forced onto the streets in search of work, or have been orphaned.

Glue sniffing has been a serious concern in Dhaka since 2007, but government-established rehabilitation centres for children in the city shut in recent years after struggling to maintain donor funding. The closures have left struggling youth with few options for support, and a readily available supply of their drug of choice.

“I used to take Dandy but now I have quit,” said Arafat, a 10-year-old orphan who had been coming to DAM for one month at the time of The Wire’s reporting. “I want to study and don’t want to get back to my old habit.”

Read the full article here: A New Family for Glue-Sniffing Street Kids in Dhaka.