I was invited to be part of a youth workshop which had brought together youth from different walks of life. The forum was facilitated by a lady who first took us through her PowerPoint slides about a wide range of youth problems in Bhutan. Following the presentation, she gave us an exercise in which we were supposed to outline what we expect from life and what can we do to achieve it.
As the participants were working individually on drawing up their life’s goals, the facilitator walked through the aisle in between the rows of tables and benches guiding those participants who needed help. After the exercise was over, we were invited to discuss what each of us had written. Suddenly, a young boy who called himself Dhiraj stood up and said, “I am a drug addict, and I have no goals in life. There isn’t anything I can expect from my life and all those who have tried to help me are not able to do anything for me. In fact, nobody can do anything to help me out”. As a counselor, the words of the boy instantly caught my attention. The facilitator just smiled and said “Thank you so much for being open and honest. I really appreciate you for being able to share this part of your life with us here”. I badly wanted to help the boy. I asked him what class he is studying in and in which school. He told me he is studying in class V in Changzamtog Lower Secondary School. Then I asked him if he had sought any professional help such as counseling or rehabilitation services before. He replied “Yes, I had been forced by school authority and parents to seek help but really I have no intention to change what I am right now. Nothing can really change me and I am absolutely happy with what I am just now and I can’t understand why people are bothered by my way of life”. I couldn’t continue to engage him because it was an open forum. The session somehow came to an end and we broke for tea.
After having tea, I was just standing alone on the lawn just enjoying the fresh air. Suddenly, Dhiraj came up to me introducing himself as one of my distant brother-in-law’s son. He told me he knows me well. I immediately stretched out my hand to greet him. He came closer and I hugged him patting on his shoulders. He was thin but had a hard-built body. Since we had some privacy to ourselves, I continued our talk from where we had left before. I asked him why he uses drugs and whether he knows that it’s illegal and wrong. I tried to convince him how much his family and friends could be worried just because he is using drugs and withdrawing from the mainstream society. I asked him when he started using drugs and how did that all happen. He gave me a detailed account of what happened and how he landed up where he is right now. I then helped him realize what damages have been caused to his relationships with his family-members, parents and friends by drugs. After he could make out the difference made by drugs in his life, he finally appeared a bit convinced of what I was trying to tell him. Holding him tight, I told him “I am truly worried about your health. And there are so many people like me within your family and friends circles who have so much care and love for you. At least for my sake and for the sake of those who love you so much, will you agree to cut down your drugs use for the time-being and gradually consider quitting it completely? Do you think you can do that?” Dhiraj did not say a word but I think he was becoming emotional. “How do you see yourself if you quit drugs?” I asked him. He said, “I think I would be loved by all because just now, I feel nobody loves me and cares about me”. Well, we finally reached the agreement that he would begin his new journey of life by cutting down the use of drugs and gradually quit it. I think he for the first time began to feel loved, cared and heard.
Then I heard some birds chirping and pigeons running across the ceiling. I finally woke up. I just checked my wrist-watch and it was 5 o’clock in the morning. It was a dream, but I am glad that I could practice counseling even in my dreams. I got up and began writing this article. I found out from my wife that we don’t even have any relative by the name Dhiraj. I don’t know how this scenario flashed through my sub-conscious mind while I was asleep. But it was a good reminder of the fact that our youth do have such issues which, if left unattended on time, can further destroy the very purpose and meaning of their life.
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