UNODC is cosponsor of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS - UNAIDS
A TRIBUTE TO L. BIRENDRAJIT SINGH "WAWA"
Mr. L. Birendrajit Singh popularly known as "Wawa" passed away on the 24th October 2006. A friend to all and especially to the most under privileged drug users and their dependents, Wawa's sudden loss is a grave setback to the movement against the drug and HIV problem in India.
Born and brought up in a middle class family, Wawa fell under the influence of drug use during his high school days following the death of his father. He became addicted to heroin use and his addiction lasted for almost a decade. This was a time when HIV became prevalent among the drug using populations of India's North East, especially Manipur. People like Wawa would learn to face not only the health-related problems but also the stigma and discrimination which took a toll on the drug users and their associates (families and peers) during these times.
In the year 1990, he quit drugs and decided to become clean. He, along with other like-minded groups of young peers who were ex-drug users formed the
L. Birendrajit Singh "Wawa" receiving a memento from Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director,UNODC in recognition of his contributions in the field of Drug Demand Reduction
(May 2006, Kolkata).
Social Awareness Service Organization (SASO) in the year 1991. SASO provided a platform for Wawa to advocate for the rights of drug users. A champion at his work, he fought against the emerging problem of stigma and discrimination among the drug users and the People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Manipur and the broader North Eastern states of India.
Over the years, SASO has been working with commitment on various issues related to drug use and HIV/AIDS. Wawa, as an active member of SASO, took the movement forward during the past 16 years. His contributions to the social sector have been numerous. Notable among them are the various policy level changes, and his efforts in pioneering the harm reduction movement in the North East. He worked as the General Secretary of SASO and was also one of the advisors on the IDU panel of the National AIDS Control Programme III.
The UNODC Regional Office for South Asia joins his family and friends in mourning a friend and able partner in our work in the region.