Director General speaks to 2000 youth about drugs

June 12, 2024

Drug Prevention Mind Lecture, Healing concert and Youth Festival

Ni sa Bula Vinaka,

Let me begin by thanking the team at International Youth Fellowship, the Ministry of Youth, MSP and all of you present here today for putting together this much needed program.

The energy and enthusiasm in this room fills me with hope and optimism. Seeing all of you reassures me that, like my team and I, you also care deeply about the future of our nation and the well-being of our youth.

We’re here because we recognize the urgency of addressing the drug problem that is increasingly affecting our communities.

How many of you have seen Barbara Dreaver’s recent documentary on the alarming drug situation in Fiji?

That documentary showed a harsh reality that many of us might not fully grasp—the rising prevalence of drug use and its devastating impact on our society, to our children and our people.

When I watched it, I couldn’t help but think of my family and my vanua. It scared me because this is now the reality of Fiji. What once seemed like a distant issue is now at our doorstep. This documentary is a wake-up call for all of us.

I was recently in the Kingdom of Tonga last week and almost in every conversation was ‘What’s happening to Fiji’s drug problem?’ It’s not what you want to hear when people think of ‘Fiji’ but it is what it is and we acknowledge that yes, we have a drug problem in our beloved country.

The video documentaries by Barbara Driever highlighted the misuse of substances, particularly among youth, which has contributed to the increasing surge in HIV cases linked to the dangerous practice known as “bluetoothing,” where drugs are shared intravenously. This not only spreads disease but also endangers lives.

When discussing drug use, it’s crucial to understand the triggers that lead our young people to use these substances.

Many turn to drugs due to socio-economic challenges, peer pressure, and a lack of support or understanding from those around them.

They seek an escape from personal and social issues, hoping for a quick fix to their problems.

But we must understand that drugs don’t solve issues; they merely mask them temporarily. The brief high, those fleeting five minutes of euphoria, often lead to deeper pain and more significant problems once the effects wear off.

It is crucial that we adopt the “I am my brother’s keeper” approach.

Each of us has a responsibility to support and help one another. We must create an environment where our youth feel valued, supported, and understood.

By standing together, we can offer the strength and resilience needed to overcome the lure of drugs. Friends supporting friends, families standing united, communities looking out for their members—this is how we can begin to turn this around.

If I am to leave you with one key message today. It would be that:

Your life is precious and full of potential. Don’t limit that potential with drug abuse. No matter what you are going through in life, drugs will never be the answer. Instead of seeking solace in substances, let’s seek support in each other.

Let’s build networks of care and understanding. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved. If you’re not comfortable reaching out to family or friends, reach out to us at the Red Cross. We may not be experts in drugs, but we are here, and we will listen.

Because if we do not make a collective commitment to change, this issue can evolve into a social crisis or disaster.

The fabric of our society can be torn apart by the consequences of drug abuse. We must change the way we treat each other. We must change the way we deal with issues. We must change the way we manage problems.

And most importantly, we must change the way we view drug use. We must understand its dangers and work tirelessly to prevent it.

I began this conversation, speaking to you as the Director General, but I end this conversation speaking to you as a family woman who is terrified at the idea of children in my family, my vanua and many other children, growing up in a Fiji where ice is being offered at the corner of the street, where bluetoothing is even a thing, and where children are being used to sell illicit drugs.

BUT THERE IS HOPE. If we can all commit to helping one another, we can beat this. I am my brother’s keeper.

Vinaka vakalevu and God Bless you and God Bless Fiji.






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