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Music Union VP Targets Drug Addicts For Rehabilitation

Illicit drug abuse in Liberia has become a serious problem which has caught the attention of the Vice President for Operation of the Musician Union (MULIB), Miatta Kamara, who also runs the Libx Records Foundation.Miatta, whose Foundation has been in existence for about a year, has taken an unorthodox approach to the problem: the staging of a musical competition for drug addicts, better known in these parts as ‘Zogos’.
The idea according to Miatta who goes by her stage name ‘Lady Love’, is to identify and rehabilitate individuals who have fallen prey to drugs through talents. However, for drug users to participate, they have to voluntarily sign-up for the Foundation’s rehabilitation program, which is opened during the course of its flagship program, the ‘ghetto musical competitions.’
“The drug abusers have to sign up willingly to be clear for 60 days where they undergo three major components of detoxing: Medicals, which comprise screening and detoxification, counseling and finally, skills acquisition,” says Kamara.
“This is a holistic approach to the drug problem more than ever before and I am hopeful this will bring it down. From what we have seen so far, most drug addicts want to change and they are coming in by themselves,” she added. “At the Foundation, we are trying to STOP the stigma associated with drug addicts by working with them not only to clean them but to also grow the development of their talents and education,” she added.
For Miatta, the idea of allowing these addicts to come forward by themselves to detox came about after years of counseling and begging them to change. As such, she realized that counseling might not just help but an avenue or event that makes them happy; without any condition attached but for voluntary detoxing.
“I realized that talking and begging them to leave the streets in the past was not all to it. That is why, they are stuck in a cycle, and easy to return to the same addiction life since the change never happens willingly. Therefore, when they signed up for the ghetto talent hunt, they agreed to be cleaned up,” Miatta explained.
The ghetto talent hunt, which first occurred last year, brought on board several drug users, some of whom are out of the streets looking clean, including the Foundation’s former Ambassador, Lady Piso.
Lady Piso, an inspiring and talented upcoming artist, was hooked on marijuana for a long-time but, despite being a petty drug abuser, she was a raw talent living in the ghetto and was waiting for help.
And when Libx Records Foundation came knocking, she and few others, who were willing to leave the life on the streets and on drugs, signed up for the ghetto competition and a year later she was off the streets. While hooked on drugs, Lady Piso said it made her to lose focus and to carry on foolish behavior.
“I smoked cannabis for three years regularly. When I took it, I used to feel free. I used to feel happy in my mind. I had no concrete reason why I started smoking, but I knew that I had nothing to do so I was just moving around my area with friends. There are drug sellers everywhere in the city. So many people are using drugs so I thought it must be good and that is how I got attracted to the smoking habit,” Lady Piso explained.
Like Piso, Dancehall Minish, is one of the recent graduates from the Foundation’s rehabilitation home and a participant of the ghetto music competition, who has since broken into the Liberian music industry as one of the country’s best dancehall artists.
“If I had not participated in the competition, I would not have known what would have happened to me. I was lost but thankfully, I have found my way out and I am using my talent to reintegrate into society. Many young people are taking drugs here because of unemployment, poverty and insecurity. We want to forget what is going on around us,” Minish said.

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