Motorbike repair centre to offer drug addicts jobs skills
Author: Souknilundon Southivongnorath
Newspaper section: International Cooperation
A new motorbike repair centre is set to offer job skills and employment to recovering patients at the Somsanga Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre, after being handed over to Lao officials yesterday. About 180 million kip raised through the 2nd Lao-Singapore Charity Run, held in December 2010, was channelled toward construction of the motorbike repair centre.
Singapore Embassy Charge d'Affaires A.I. Ivan Chia said construction of the centre was aligned with the motto adhered to by the Singapore Cooperation Programme: "Teach a man to fish so that he feeds himself for life, rather than giving him fish which will feed him for a day." "We believe that the new knowledge and skills that the individual gains through participation at the Motorbike Repair Workshop and Training Centre will put him or her in good stead for the future and will help them to reconnect as useful citizens of society," he said.
Construction was carried out by Somsanga and its patients, and has recently been completed. The facility, 12 metres long and eight metres wide, consists of one classroom and four repair units.
There are storage spaces for tools and equipment, and the facility will be able to accommodate 12 trainees at a time. A three-month non-formal education course is set to begin on April 4 and will be conducted by the Lao-German Technical School in cooperation with the Honda New Chip Xeng Group.
Trainees will learn basic skills in the field of motorbike repair and maintenance. Since the Somsanga Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre was established in 2002, it has made significant contributions to society. A total of 16,253 drug addicts, addicted to various drugs, have been treated and rehabilitated. In 2010 the centre provided treatment to a total of 2,154 drug addicts, of whom 123 were female.
The rehabilitation centre was built with a capacity to treat 700 addicts per session, but at present the number being treated is 1,087, an indication of the trust that users and their loved ones have in the centre, according to staff.
UNODC Deputy Regional Representative and Country Representative of Laos Leik Bounwaat thanked the Singaporean embassy for supporting the fundraising efforts. He also thanked the private entities and companies who provided valuable donations and continue to support the worthy cause. "Drug trafficking cases in Laos have significantly increased and with that there has been an increase in the number of drug abusers.
Drug addiction brings misery and suffering not only to the individual but also to the family and communities. However, it is an important to treat drug users not as criminals but as victims who need treatment and hope for a better life," Mr Leik explained. Also attending the ceremony were the Lao National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision Kou Chansina, Somsanga Centre Director Sisouphan Boupha and other representatives of diplomats, companies and colleges in Vientiane.