Pubdate: Mon, 12 May 2003
Source: Daily Nation (Kenya)
Copyright: 2003 Nation Newspapers
Contact: (254-2)213946
Author: Robert Nyagah


British funding for Malindi's heroin users' rehabilitation centre ends

A rehabilitation centre for drug addicts might be closed for lack of funding.

Local and international donors have delayed money for Omar Centre in 
Malindi which was started three years ago to rehabilitate heroin users.

The project was launched under a three-year funding from the UK's Community 
Fund, the centre chairman, Mr Shee Abdallah, said.

This has come to an end and the centre has applied for new funding which 
has not been forthcoming.

Locally, the centre has sought support from the Kenya National Aids Council.

This is because experts at the centre are able to reach drug users who are 
at high risk of contracting Aids.

Mr Abdallah said the centre was started due to the prevalence of heroin 
addiction among the youth and adults in Shella, Watamu and Maweni.

Since its launch at Msabaha, it has helped rehabilitate 150 men and women 
abusers of the drug.

Mr Abdalla said the centre was developed in partnership with the Bristol 
Drugs Project, a British NGO, and has been accommodating a maximum of 20 
people at any one time.

Its construction was funded by the British High Commission in Kenya to the 
tune of Sh2.2 million under the Department for International Development's 
Small Grants Scheme. It also received Sh7 million from the National Lottery 
Charities Board of the United Kingdom.

Ms Maggie Telfer, the director of Bristol Drugs Project, said the centre's 
six-month free detoxification and rehabilitation programme was unique in 

She said the committee managing the centre was keen to share its experience 
with others interested in reducing heroin use, adding that it was already 
collaborating with groups in Lamu, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.

Omar Centre project leader Susan Beckerleg said: "We face an uncertain 
future as we await the outcome of grant applications in Kenya and the UK. 
We are asking the Community Fund to continue their assistance."

She said the centre was now struggling to provide service, adding that they 
had reduced costs and were unable to operate at full capacity.

The services were in high demand, Dr Beckerleg said, and more than 20 
people were waiting for what "is a life-saving chance".

Mohamed, who received the centre's services for 18 months and is now drugs 
free, said: "Without the Omari Centre, I would be dead."
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