Israel Roberts was among several young men who were declared sober for over twelve months after they were found hooked on narcotics for eight or more years on September 10, 2022 by the New Life Recovery Center in Sundagar Town, Marshall City, Margibi County. The young men were found to be using “coco” and heroin also known as “Italian White” or “Tai-girl”. In his testimony, Roberts said he used his school fees on drugs and stole things from home to sell just to support his drug habit, adding, “when I saw my friends that I used to help in school graduating from school, I decided to change.”
He told parents, family, and friends attending the sobriety event that he dropped out of school because of drugs, left home, and started sleeping in the ghetto for three years. “When I was brought to the New Life Recovery Center, I ran away twice before I decided to stay,” Roberts narrated. He said the strange feeling of withdrawal made him to walk over 100 kilometers to go to home to his people and drug buddies. Roberts told fellow residents and those attending the sobriety events that when he realized that he was bringing shame and disgrace to his family he decided to change.
Speaking to the sobriety fellows and other residents of the center, Rev. Caleb S. G. Dormah said the lives of young people across Liberia are being controlled by narcotics addiction and there are few rehabilitation centers to deal with over 200,000 young people already suffering from addiction. “The war we have declared on substance abuse will not be won if government failed to partner with churches and other caregiving institutions to treat the young people,” Dormah asserted. He said losing young people to drugs and other dangerous substances is a threat to the peace and stability of the country.
Rev Dormah said Liberians need to accept the fact that drugs and other dangerous substances are winning the war over the lives of the nation’s youthful population, adding, “if we do not act swiftly, the victims of these narcotics substances will control our lives in time to come.” Dormah who heads the United Methodist Church’s At-Risk Youths Ministry said government should not only support caregiving institutions, the government through the national legislature should act on the law of “Controlled Drug and Substance Act of 2014”. “Our children are at the mercy of traffickers and dealers of illicit drugs,” he lamented.
For his part, Jefferson Knight who coordinates the activities of the United Methodist Church’s New Life Recovery Center said the residents of the center are in need of help from the religious community and other caregiving partners to cope with the growing wave of addicted drugs users. Right now we don’t have space for female addicts because the building that supposed to host them is still under construction. He told West African Writers that the construction works in being funded by contributions from Jeff and Michelle Kirby of the Alpha Lighthouse of the Church of the Resurrection in Kansas and Rev. Dr. Jim White’s Recovery Liberia of Florida. “The 21 residents of the New Life Recovery Center are supported by relatives, friends, and partners at home and overseas,” Knight concluded.
On Thursday, June 30, 2022, President of the Republic of Liberia, His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah launched a National Fund Drive for the rehabilitation and empowerment of at risk youth in Liberia. President Weah committed one million USD of government funds to the approximately 13 million USD intervention. When asked as to whether his entity has received assistance from the government’s intervention on At-Risk Youths, Knight said no.