How would you paint your life, particularly your most difficult experiences? What colors and themes would you choose and why? During a recent art session at Metta Development Foundation’s PWID-friendly drop-in center in Kachin State, we asked participants to share their stories with us. We hope you will listen to their stories, too.
I was quite worried that my hands would not be able to express what I had in mind. As a Metta staff member suggested, I tried mixing yellow with blue to get green since I wanted to paint a mountain range at first. I tried painting after mixing the colors and it was not quite what I wanted. Then, I had to process what I wanted in my mind again. The one that I just painted is about the cyclical nature of drug addiction. It’s about how we cannot escape.
Honestly, I want people in my situation to stop taking drugs. I really want to quit, too. I have tried many times but couldn't. I'm still trying. If you can't completely quit, I would advise you to take methadone , which doesn't consume time and money. I want methadone to be widespread in my region . That's the reason I did my painting about not being able to escape. You will see people caught up in that circle of addiction in my painting. I want people to see a way out. I want people to see the exit that I see.
I'm married. Because of drugs, I am now homeless and I have to depend on others for a place to live. I feel like an outcast. I dream of living happily with my family in my own home. When I meet with people in my situation, they ask me what I am thinking. I reply that I am thinking about why we can’t escape from drugs. It's beneficial for us that Metta is here. They give us food and we can exchange used needles for clean needles . This prevents transmission of diseases.
My aim is to escape from drugs and I'm still trying. As soon as I'm free from drugs, it would be as if I’ve achieved my goal. For me, my painting is nothing more than expressing my true wish.
This interview has been translated and edited. The views and opinions expressed within this interview are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of PEPFAR, USAID, UNAIDS, Community Partners International or Metta Development Foundation.
The UHF project is funded by USAID under PEPFAR through UNAIDS Myanmar and managed by Community Partners International. The UHF Project provides support to Metta Development Foundation’s drop-in clinics in Kachin and Shan States.
 Methadone is used for opioid substitution treatment (OST). It is prescribed and administered at Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) clinics in Kachin State.
 Metta Development Foundation provides transportation support for clients in this project site to take methadone in Hopin. Due to the distance, however, some clients are waiting for the construction of an MMT clinic at a station hospital in this location. The clinic is expected to open within the next month. Metta Development Foundation will provide human resources support (two nurses) at the MMT clinic.
 Metta Development Foundation utilizes a harm reduction approach at its centers. Through this approach, Metta Development Foundation focuses on minimizing the risks and harms associated with drug use. Harm reduction services include the Needle and Syringe Exchange Programme (NSEP) for people who inject drugs (PWIDs).