Ghettos and outreach programmes by Apdar | 07 September 2020
In a recent gathering, a representative of the Agency for the Prevention of Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation (Apdar), Michelle Sabury, spoke about the outreach activities conducted by the agency and other non-governmental organisations.
Ms Sabury explained that the term was originally used for the Venetian Ghetto in Venice, Italy as early as 1516, to describe the part of the city where Jews were restricted and where members of a minority group live, typically as a result of social, legal or economic pressure. They were infamous for being more impoverished than other areas of the city. Versions of the ghetto appear across the world, each with their own names, classification and grouping of people.
Initially, she explained, a ghetto in Seychelles was an area where a group of people meet to undertake antisocial activities such as smoking drugs; an area known for being impoverished and where there is high rates of social issues leading to drug related crimes.
But now, a ghetto in Seychelles is an area where people sell or use illegal substances, cigarettes, alcohol and other paraphernalia associated with drug use. However participants may not necessarily sit in groups. The area can be both known for being impoverished and well taken care of. Social issues leading to crime can both be high or on average and in some circumstances it may seems non-existence.
Who are the people on the ghetto?
Before, it was composed of people who are loud; litter the area; drink alcohol frequently; loiter around; blast their car stereos; wear a gold tooth and they are mostly men.
Now, it is composed of different personalities; depending on the area some people have high level of hygiene; mostly associated with drug related activities; may come and go; may not even have a car; may lack jewelry; all categories of people from infant to elderly and employed and unemployed.
Trend on the ghettos
Trend on the ghettos varies per sub-district. Each has its own characteristics and some may even have ground rules. Activities are more organised from drugs to paraphernalia and accessibility to everything and even the accessories needed to use the drugs. Trading happens on a 24/7 basis. On Mahé further in the south the selling price is more expensive than in town areas. Selling price on La Digue is cheaper than on Praslin and most of the time same price as Mahé.
Where are the ghettos?
Private homes; housing estate; public areas; behind playing fields/ court in the district; where weekly activities are held (before restricted movement); Providence landfill; outside shops; abandoned houses/areas; Hill areas and almost everywhere.
Apdar’s role on the ghettos
In June 2017 Apdar held its first training of peer educators with the aim of reaching out to people who use drugs. Upon completion of training participants started monthly outreach activities on the main ghettos which were namely Corgat Estate, Les Mamelles, Plaisance and Anse Aux Pins. Early 2018 outreach activities extended during the day to other districts like Cascade, Pointe Larue and Port Glaud. There was a necessity to conduct outreach activities fortnightly.
Outreach activities held on a weekly basis
In 2019 outreach activities were organised in the afternoon to encourage participants to enroll on the low threshold methadone maintenance programme. In 2020 most outreach activities were conducted late afternoon.
Conduct needle exchange programme at English River mat clinic every Wednesday morning. Conduct outreach in two groups fortnightly: Group 1 – south – West and Group 2 – North – Central
Role of Apdar on the ghettos
Conduct outreach activities; encourage new clients to seek assistance by joining various harm reductions programmes available; identify relapsed clients and encourage them to rejoin programme; provide paraphernalia including condoms, lubricants, information leaflets, clean syringes to decrease associated diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV/Aids; provide counselling and referral; conduct rapid HIV testing; gather critical information for analysis on the unstable trends on the ghettos for effective interventions.
Benefits of outreach activities
Educate the community on harm reduction; encourage more clients to access available services such as harm reduction programme, psychosocial, CDCU, prenatal care etc.. Reduce harm to unborn babies; reconnect with lost faces/ community; decrease in drug related crimes; discourage cartel activities; awareness on the particular community; awareness on the drug cartel itself; close down of certain ghettos.
Characteristics of the ghettos vary and may change from time to time; staff health are at risk; harassed by certain individuals at times; other agencies jeopardise work carried out (ANB - throw away syringe of clients); availability of new drugs on the market; some clients that are tested reactive for HIV are reluctant to go for confirmation test.
Apdar will continue to educate and equip staff with new trends on the ghettos; equip staff with necessary equipment; keep advocating for harm reduction programmes; sensitise stakeholders and general public; conduct rapid Hepatitis test; identify key personnel at CDCU and intensify effort in outreach activities.