15 year life with drug users – truly boldhearted hero
When the curtain closed for the community hero Murad Saad in the year 2007, the battle of taming drug use among the Coastal youth, heavy as it was, would fall on the shoulders of young Taib Abdulrahman.
It was a painful beginning since he was only learning the ‘donkey work’ from his predecessor the late Murad but Taib would never relent and vowed to take it with an objective, the realization of progressive drug policies and a society free from the effects of drugs abuse and HIV and AIDS.
Taib admits that fighting drug use among the Coastal community would only be compared to gnashing a millipede with one’s teeth, however, 15 years later he is a truly unsung hero who cannot even reveal where the zeal and courage came from. He is thankful to the creator for making it a score.
The National recognition of ‘An outstanding contributor towards treatment and rehabilitation of substance use disorder’ by the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse-NACADA during the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit trafficking at Tononoka ground on the 26th of June this year, was more of a challenge than an award for Taib.
The 37 year old and a father of three is a renowned anti- drug Czar and a Champion at the Coast and countrywide.
“My life has been in battling drug use among the Coastal community, I have rehabilitated over 800 youth through counseling, detoxification programs and reintegration,” he reveals as he picks is mobile phone just to ensure the Friday outreach programs in the field are smoothly tackled by his Outreach workers, field Officers and Counselors most of whom were once trapped in addiction.
As the wind blows through his Arabic designed hair cut, a signal of ‘More tough challenges ahead’ Taib has transverse all over the world from the East Africa Countries, Central Africa and the US in search of support for the realization of progressive drug policies.
[Reachout Centre Trust Executive Director Taib Abdulrahman during the interview in his office. Photo/Tom Fondo]
“I have been in Rwanda, Nigeria, Pakistan, the United States, Brazil among many other countries, truly speaking drug menace is a global problem that needs inter-states approach,” he asserted.
He admits that it is a high risk kind of activism but despite all the challenges he has soldiered on.
“We have partners all over the country and beyond. Locally we operate in Mombasa, Kwale and Taita taveta Counties while our partners extend to Kilifi and Lamu as the most affected Counties in the region,” he reveals.
Reachout Centre Trust has two main rehabilitation centers, the ‘Kona ya Mtongwe’ that offers a four month rehabilitation program and Half-way house along Shelly beach road Likoni where recovering drug users are taken for reintegration programs and entrepreneurial skills.
He supported NACADA’s initiative of changing its working strategies and directly involving anti- drug Organizations at the Coast recently, compared to the past where according to Taib the government agency was numb.
Taib also commended the government and other Partners for the introduction of the Medical Assisted Therapy-MAT Program that administers methadone treatment which has disentangled youth from using heroine.
“We are still stretching our arms, as Reachout Centre Trust, an anti-drug Organization we are not caving in, with the support from partners we are combating this menace,” concluded the Jomo Kenyatta university public health graduate.