Pubdate: Thu, 16 Dec 1999
Source: Jakarta Post (Indonesia)
Copyright: The Jakarta Post
Contact:  P.O. Box 85 Palmerah Jakarta 11001
Fax: (62) (21) 5492685
Author: David and Joyce Djaelani Gordon


I absolutely agree with Steven Woodhouse from UNICEF and Coordinating
Minister for People's Welfare and Poverty Eradication Basri Hasanuddin's
worry and fear about "losing a generation of children in Indonesia today".
And expanding into this "unfolding tragic story" is the fact of the fierce
and rapid escalation of drug addiction, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis which is
claiming the lives of so many of our young Indonesian boys and girls today.

More and more of our "young children" who cannot afford to go to school,
who drop out of school for economic reasons, and those who must live within
the families' poverty are turning to drugs for reasons of "escape, from the
poverty and sorrow of their lives". Many young girls and boys are being
forced into the business of prostitution because of their families'
poverty, and having little choice as how to help their family earn enough
money for food, shelter and clothing.

Each day now we see, and admit, more "drug addicts" into Yayasan Harapan
Permata Hati Kita. We verify more drug addicts are becoming infected with
HIV/AIDS and hepatitis each time we "blood test" these young addicts. We
hear stories of more and more young people turning to drugs for recreation
and escape from the pressures and stresses of their everyday lives.

Poverty always creates more addicts, plus addiction coproduces many drug
dealers, much more crime and violence. Today, addicts are spreading the
HIV/AIDS and hepatitis viruses at alarming rates throughout Indonesia.

We forecast losing a million plus young people to addiction, HIV/AIDS and
hepatitis over the first coming years of the new millennium.

Mr. Woodhouse and minister Hasanuddin are heartfully correct, "we must do
something now to save the children of Indonesia". A united effort must be
undertaken to battle poverty, addiction, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. We have
little time to waste if we sincerely do not wish to lose a generation of
our young people, or have a generation of lost children roaming the streets
of Indonesia.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart