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Drug Ends All Dreams (D.E.A.D) Campaign - Innovation from YES Club

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The YES club, supported by Peace Direct through LEGASI, embarked on a passionate two phase advocacy campaign from May 29th to June 2nd, 2023 and through the month of June to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (World Drug Day). Though the international theme, "People first: stop stigma and discrimination, strengthen prevention", YES Club engaged with key authorities and stakeholders, aiming to shape the future through profound conversations around a local theme - Drug Ends All Dreams (D.E.A.D).
During their visits, the YES club team met with the Natioanl Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Zaria Command, Sarkin Samaru, Nigerian Police Force (NPF) Samaru Division, Sarkin Yarbawa Samaru Zaria, Mai Anguwan New Extension and Mai Anguwan Anguwan Gwaiba. These meetings centered around the Drug Ends All Dreams (D.E.A.D) project, a peacebuilding initiative to combat drug abuse, which emerged from the larger EnGAGE project funded by Peace Direct through LEGASI.

All the stakeholders and authorities expressed pride in their association with the project and assured the team of their unwavering support. Inspired by these assurances, entry-level meetings were organized on June 6th and 7th, 2023 at the New Extension Samaru and Anguwan Gwaiba, respectively. These meetings aimed to inform and captivate the participants' interest in joining the project.
Grassroots actors wholeheartedly embraced the project's activities, recognizing its potential to shed light on the perils of drug abuse and pave the way for recovery. Following the successful entry-level meetings, a rally was held on June 11th, 2023, to raise awareness about the dangers of drug abuse.

Vibrant posters adorned the streets, handbills were distributed to individuals, and stickers found their place on vehicles, shop doors and home entrances. The members of both communities, including the participants, expressed excitement and gratitude towards this timely intervention. Mallam Abubakar remarked, "I wish this awareness campaign had been organized earlier, before drug abuse reached such a critical level in our community. Nevertheless, I am grateful that it is finally happening, for it is better late than never."

The three-day D.E.A.D seminar/workshop took place from June 12th to 14th, 2023, in Zaria, bringing together 40 dedicated grassroots actors from the New Extension, Samaru, and Anguwan Gwaiba. The first day featured resource persons such as Jafar Salisu, the Commander of NDLEA Zaria Command, Pastor Funom Bature and John Wilson. The unique approach of involving drug users and abusers as direct participants earned commendation from the NDLEA Commander as their vivid testimonies enlightened all that came out for the sessions.

These testimonies enriched the session, including that of Sadiq Audi, who expressed gratitude for the program's impact on his drug consumption. "I am truly thankful for this program. Normally, by noon, I would have consumed a significant amount of cigarettes and weed (Indian hemp). However, it's almost 4 p.m., and the only thing I've had was a quarter of a cigarette during the lunch break because we had to share the only one available. Surprisingly, I feel perfectly normal. I never imagined I could go this long in a day without indulging. I hope I can continue like this until I can quit completely."

On the second day of the Drugs End All Dreams (D.E.A.D) seminar/workshop, fresh topics and approaches were introduced to the participants, aiming to more effectively accomplish the desired intervention and sensitization objectives. The resource persons included Chief Superintendent from the Narcotics division of NDLEA Kaduna State, Mr. John Wilson, Mr. B.J. Lord a renowned radio presenter and Mallam Muhammad Sani, a respected Muslim Cleric in Samaru Zaria.

The participants openly acknowledged their struggles and expressed a genuine desire for assistance. Remarkably, those who appeared disheveled the previous day all presented a transformed appearance, without any coercion or attempts to appease them.
The program marked a significant milestone as it brought together NDLEA and Queens FM Zaria radio, fostering an unprecedented meeting. Both parties greatly valued this encounter and enthusiastically discussed future collaborations to combat drug abuse in Zaria.

The Chief Superintendent of Narcotics Division in Kaduna State expressed immense pride in the initiative, highlighting its timely nature. He emphasized the urgency by revealing that currently, four youths from Anguwan Gwaiba are in the custody of NDLEA. He emphasized that this sensitization program is the most valuable undertaking for the youth in this area.
He further stated that Anguwan Gwaiba has long been flagged as a problematic zone during their patrols. However, he firmly believed that if the participants adhere to what they have learned during the program, this troublesome past will soon become a thing of distant memory. One of the participants, Abdulaziz Kamarudeen said "Thank God for this program as it is an eye opener for me, because I was already going astray but now I know how bad it will be in the near future. I feel this program was organized for me to be set free.”

The final day of the D.E.A.D seminar/workshop, held on June 14th, 2023, marked the culmination of the program. The participants, comprising grassroots actors, arrived with renewed enthusiasm, ready to wholeheartedly engage with the knowledge imparted and put it into action. Three additional topics were covered on this day, and an evaluation/assessment was conducted. Dr. Musa Matthew also provided private counseling sessions for individuals.

Musa Abdulrahman expressed his new-found understanding, stating, "I now realize that NDLEA is an organization that assists individuals in reclaiming their lives, rather than being an enemy to those struggling with addiction. Therefore, I encourage everyone to always reach out to them. They will embrace you with love and provide the necessary support to help you break free from the destructive behavior that once held you captive."

As in previous days, the participants enjoyed delicious breakfast and lunch meals. Towards the end of the program, each participant was awarded a certificate of attendance, a token of recognition for their active participation. Prof. Buba Wahe, one of the resource persons for the day, had the honor of presenting the certificates to the participants marking the successful conclusion of the program.

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