Many residents say they are sick of seeing their community ripped apart by drugs, though growing opium is one of the few ways people can make money in impoverished rural areas such as Nampakta. More than a billion dollars in development aid has poured into Myanmar, but it has been spent mainly in urban centers and other more accessible areas. Now some residents in opium country would prefer to see the crops destroyed.
Daw Li, the woman who lost two sons to drugs, one 32 and the other 28, worries that it’s only a matter of time before her youngest, now 25, follows them to the grave.
“I expected my children to be great,” she cried.
She said her boys started doing drugs after graduating from high school, but she had no idea at first. They hid it well. But then money started disappearing, and after that, household items such as blankets and dishes that she presumes they sold to buy drugs. Later she hid in neighbors’ homes, worried that her sons might attack her if she refused to give them money.
“There is nothing I can say except that it makes me so sad, and angry,” she says. “At the drug dealers, at their friends, at myself, but also, of course, at authorities who aren’t doing a thing to stop it.
“Now whenever I see young addicts on the streets, all I can say is, ‘Please, don’t use drugs anymore. Look at me, an old lady who lost two sons. Your parents will also feel so sad, just like me.’”
The message is lost on those who loiter in the graveyard in the center of the village, the most popular hangout for addicts. The village tallies deaths almost every week. Days before an Associated Press team visited the area, four men between 18 and 45 died of drug overdoses.
The body of the youngest was found in the graveyard, draped over a tombstone.