Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)
Who are those in rehabilitation? Sons, siblings, husbands and fathers
Who are those who have fallen victim to substance abuse and are undergoing rehabilitation at Kandakadu?
On the threshold of youth, he was just 21 years old when his parents realized that he was not what he used to be when schooling.
Living and schooling in a village in Galle, he had passed his Ordinary Level exam well, but was not interested in continuing his studies. It was last year when he took up odd-jobs as a labourer at construction sites that there was a character-change, says his father who was a solider but is now into construction.
The youth’s mother is a garment worker and his sisters are studying.
They learnt to their dismay that their loved one was into drugs and he was sent to Kandakadu in January this year. They were happy to see him on July 4 after a lapse of several months. However, a few days after, came the call that even though his son had tested negative, the family needed to go into quarantine at the Rantambe centre for 14 days.
From Wellampitiya comes a similar tale – the son in a family of five who fell into the murky depths of addiction when he was 18. Now 26, he had done one rehabilitation stint, only to succumb again and be sent to Kandakadu for the second time.
His mother and sister were happy when they heard that they could visit him on July 4 and chatted about this and that when they met him. A few days later they were informed that they need to be in quarantine.
We are thankful that putha is not infected, says the mother.
In another family from Gampaha, it is the 52-year-old father who is at Kandakadu.
The man’s wife recalls how their lives changed when she realized that something was wrong with him. Shortly after that he could not continue with his job at the bakery and it was from his co-workers that she found out that he was in the vicelike grip of substance abuse.
"Ape lamai dennama cigarette ekakwath bonnehna,” housewife who has two sons aged 26 and 18. The elder one is a driver who is married with a little one-year-old daughter and the younger is due to start Advanced Level classes soon.
It is with a sigh that she says that her husband was never arrested but she reported him and got him sent for rehabilitation as she did not want the sons to feel embarrassed about their father.
“I took up the challenge to make him a better person, even though it was very hard,” she says.
She visited him on July 4 which was poya. After a few days she got a call that she should be in quarantine and since July 11 she has been at the Rantambe centre. Her husband has tested negative but she was awaiting the results of the RT-PCR test when the Sunday Times contacted her.
Meanwhile, we hear the heartrending tale of a new bride who kept watching the door for her husband…….but he did not return from a visit to his parents’ home on February 17.
Her 33-year-old husband was a driver from Hambantota. She was 30. They married in January and set up home in the Maharagama area, while she too found herself a job in a shop. He had been arrested on February 22 and sent to Kandakadu on March 15 for one year.
“My husband’s family was against our marriage. Even though he took drugs, he was not an addict but a family-oriented person. His mother is a cleaner and his father has no job. His four elder sisters who are married never help their parents but my husband was doing so through his earnings,” said the bride who had such hopes for the future.
She is insistent that his family handed him over to the police because of their grudge that he had married her.
Tearfully, she visited him at Kandakadu on July 4, travelling all the way from home to chat to him and get a glimpse of his beloved face. On July 9, she was asked to get into self-quarantine. Her husband was negative for the virus.