"Hivvaru" and "Ummeedhu" are the first two women Self-Help groups formed in Maldives by Society for Women Against Drugs (SWAD), which is being supported by the UNODC regional project RAS/H13 - "Prevention of transmission of HIV among drug users in SAARC countries" RAS/H13.
"Hivvaru" in Dhivehi (the official language of Maldives) means strength where as "Ummeedhu" means hope. Both these support groups have 15 members each and they meet regularly to share their problems, encourage each other and use the support group as a platform to enhance the skills and capacities while dealing with the problems of drug use as the affected and afflicted ones.
These support groups also enable women to connect with other women in the same or similar occupations/situations. It provides a forum for women to share their experiences and learn strategies so that they can protect themselves from their vulnerabilities to drug use and drug related HIV/AIDS.The groups are effective ways to help the isolated women who do not have a network of friends or family support systems, which also prevents them from gaining economic independence and makes them more vulnerable to societal pressures including stigma and discrimination.
My son used to beat himself when I refused to give him money to buy drugs. Sometimes I gave in to his demands and cried later…and it was very painful to watch him high. But by sharing my problems in Ummeedhu, I feel confident dealing with my son, and I understand others problems too, " shared a member from the Ummeedhu group.
Members of the support groups during the felicitation ceremony
22 May, 2008 was a great day for these women support group members who had gathered for an event organised by SWAD to felicitate the support groups.
Minister of Family and Gender, Ms. Aishath Mohamed Didi, UNODC Representative, Mr. Gary Lewis, Deputy Executive Director of National Narcotics Control Board, Mr. Ameen Ibrahim, Dy. Exec Director, Mr. Ahmed Mohamed, Project H13 Coordinator, Ms. Harsheth Virk and UNODC and Mr. Kunal Kishore, Drug Demand Reduction Officer, UNODC were all present on the occasion.
The members of SWAD thanked the dignitaries present on the occasion and shared the purpose of the support groups and the activities of the organization. The dignitaries in their addresses complemented the support group members, SWAD and Project H13 for their dedication and commitment.
UNODC Project H13 is currently engaging these women support group members to also generate awareness, impart skills and build capacities of the community based volunteers in their own resident localities.
Mr. Gary Lewis, Representative (UNODC)
Ms. A M Didi (Minister Gender & Family with support group)