You cannot understand how dire the problem of substance abuse is until you hear a bright-eyed 12-year-old tell you very emphatically that she knows the most popular spots in her neighbourhood. A spot where all the ‘bad boys chill and have fun o.’ Those are her code words for spots where the most popular boys relax and exchange bottles of codeine, painkillers in soda drinks and more.
Ayomide (real names withheld), was jumping excitedly with her friends and gaping at energetic dancers at the Ayobo Bus park, Ipaja Road, where the MTN ASAP (Anti Substance Abuse Programme) team had set up for the day.
Her best friend, Amina (real names withheld), couldn’t stop looking at the dancers as she tried to answer questions. At 12, they were very aware of substance abuse, they had left their different schools early to join in the event and dance along.
“I will never touch drugs oooo! It is bad. But I know where they do it!”, Ayomide nodded as she spoke. When Amina (13) was able to tear her eyes from the mesmerizing dancers, “Uncle Sumo was even there…” she started before her friend’s foot stomping on her leg halted her from revealing a secret.
“Me, I want to be a doctor o”, the shyest of the trio piped up from behind her bolder friends, probably to draw attention from the secret. They understood fully well what was happening in their neighborhood but if their talk was any indication, they were staying far away from any substances. A step in the best direction. And that’s what the MTN Anti Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP) is all about.
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