Amina (not her real name) admits she did not know what she was getting into when she started using miraa and bhang for leisure and wishes she had never tried them in the first place.

At just 21-years of age, she is addicted to hard drugs and has lost life’s purpose. Her story is that of other addicts who started using miraa and bhang as mundane and harmless drugs of leisure unaware of the fact that such use would lead to addiction which might require want of hard drugs. As Kenyans are still shocked by the ranks held by drug barons in the corridors of power and the staggering amounts of drugs netted by police, over 25,000 addicts continue to sink deep in the abyss of drug addiction with no hope of ever coming out. Meet Amina, a Muslim and you will appreciate the extent to which illegal and harmful substances are affecting the youth population in Coast Province and more particularly young girls sucked into the use and vices of drugs. Hidden by a veil over her head Amina shares her story and how heroin has destroyed her life. She has a buibui on which reveals a pink top and blue jeans with only her hands
and feet revealing her light complexion. She is concocting a dose of heroin in a water bottle’s top which she intends to inject herself with.

“I have become a slave not only physically but also mentally,” says the veiled lady. “It is a must for me to take heroin now that I am an addict.” Pure heroin is the main narcotic sold in every corner of the streets of Mombasa. The drug is smoked or snorted but most addicts prefer injecting. Pulls down her jeans Aware of her filthy place Amina takes precaution and sieves about 10cc of liquid heroin in the syringe using a cigarette butt filter. “This will help filter out dirt particles that can block the syringe or even be injected in my veins,” she explains and proceeds to fold her buibui on the arm. Her arm is full of abscesses on the skin of injection needles and she searches veins on these spots. “When you see blood come up in the syringe it means I have got a vein which I can inject the drug into.” After several searches Amina cannot find any veins on both arms and instead of aborting her attempts she stands up and says, “I have to get it.” Meaning she has to inject the drug in herself. As if unaware of people around her, she pulls down her jeans to knee level and sits down to search for veins in the least expected place. “It reaches a point where you use your private part where veins are easy to find at all times,” she says in a hoarse voice meant to explain her act and veil her shame.

Finally a speck of blood shows on the syringe and after drawing blood in to the syringe she proceeds to shoot the mixture of blood and drug in to herself through veins in her private part. A minute hardly passes and Amina floats in to her own world. For the last eight months, Amina has been injecting herself through her private parts and admits that her addiction has come too far. “I don’t even care about my body hygiene anymore” Amina says laying back as the drug takes effect in her. In such state Amina is unaware of how she is exposed to sexual abuse given that there are other male addicts around. Elswhere, Laila (not her real name), 14, is hanging out with a group of men who seem abit older than her. Laila, we discover has barely finished class 8 and opted to drop out of school to concentrate on finding and consuming her daily dose of drugs. As she narrates her story, Laila wipes out a roll of bhang and calmly lights it. Since she is the youngest, Muslim Times 3600 learnt that for her to continue getting her frequent supply of drugs, the older boys have to arrange sexual encounters with potential customers at a fee. The money is then split between them and Laila. When asked whether bhang is the only drug she consumes, Laila confides that being a drug addict leaves you no choice but take what comes your way.

Heroin pangs Farook Saad is the Project Director of Citizens against Child and Drug Abuse in Mombasa which seeks to rehabilitate addicts and protect children against abuse mostly associated with drugs. He says that the minimum sum of money needed to douse heroin pangs is Sh1000 in a day. “A sachet (least quantity of heroin) goes for Sh200 and it’s taken once,” Saad says. “An addict needs at least four to five sachets a day.” “Need for money to buy heroin has caused crime rate to go up, prostitution and homosexuality have spiked causing increase in the spread of HIV/Aids and hepatitis. Also there is an increase in deaths caused by overdose.” Zainab was introduced to heroin by her boyfriend, aptly called ‘Doctor’ due to his expertise in administering heroin. “I used to see him inject a Mzungu lady and I became curious,” Zainab says with her hand extending to Doctor who is looking for veins to inject into. “When I was asked by him to try, I got hooked in.” Amina and Zainab have to engage in prostitution to get money for drugs and these are the ladies who come to the streets in town to peddle their bodies at night. Zainab would like to get help but she does not know where to start from.

Saad blames lack of facilities on government as girls have no place they can get help. He emphasizes that there is need for government run rehabilitation centres as private institutions are expensive for girls like Zainab. Children are introduced to drugs from early in life when their parents use miraa and cigarettes in front of them, according to Saad, opening the gateways into drug culture. “When these children grow up, they will most likely want to start with something like heroin.”
Amina, Zainab and many other girls have been robbed of their youth, beauty and purpose of life at the watch of their communities and are now exposed to the mercies of drug dealers and people willing to pay them for sex. But Muslim communities can help in the fight if they want to. “Muslims spend over Sh1.5 million a day on miraa only in Mombasa,” says Saad. “Instead of using their money that way  they should donate towards building of rehabilitation facilitiesin Mombasa which will help the addicts in the region.”

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