Birganj (Fides Service) – People call the leprosy centre he runs Little Flower and it is a reality appreciated by all Nepalese. But today diocesan priest Father Christdas, aged 64, is also caring for drug addicts and AIDS sufferers ever more numerous in Nepal who come knocking on his door for help.
Father Christdas opened the leprosy centre in Birganj on the Nepal India border, but he soon realised that drugs and AIDS were another major problem involving many people in the area between Raxaul in India and Birganj in Nepal. “More than 50% of the people caught in the snare of drug addiction, mostly young people, want to stop but only a small percentage has the opportunity be helped to come off drugs and resume normal life”, the priest told Fides.
According to a survey by the Students Awakening Forum (SAF) student group in Birganj, there are at least 6.000 drug addicts in Birganj (southern Nepal) and more than 500 people who are HIV positive and threaten to infect many others. Those with a drug problem are aged mainly between 14 to 29, but there have been cases of even younger children victims of drugs.
“The government should wake up to this situation and take the necessary measures – says Father Christdas – otherwise we risk a social tragedy and especially because youth are the future of the nation”.
Fr Christdas first launched an anti-drug campaign over ten years ago in 1990, “but people underestimated the danger of drug addiction and today we are seeing the tragic results. Many Catholic institutions are engaged in fighting the problem of drug addiction in Nepal, but what is needed is greater collaboration between the governments of India and Nepal to stop the thriving drug trafficking in this border area. ” (PA) (Agenzia Fides 30/10/2003 lines 31 words 319)