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.
Including this session, I have now painted twice. At first, I had no idea about painting because I couldn't read or write. The staff said I could paint even if I cannot read or write. I painted my difficulties and feelings like they asked me to. They were glad and complimented my drawing and then I did it again today. I painted black for the time of crisis. My son lives far away and I cannot depend on him because he’s not reliable; that's why I painted blue. White and pink are for feelings of joy.
Now I want to share my feelings. The first time I approached Metta, I felt apprehensive. Some people told me not to join Metta because I would be forced to stop taking opium . Whatever, I discussed with Metta and joined.
I'm happy to be a member of Metta . I can ask the staff for help if there's a problem. I’m really happy here. We come to Metta, take snacks to eat and ask for rice. I was skinny but now I'm getting plump. Before I met with Metta, I was not happy. That's why I painted black. In the middle are my family and I, altogether five. The white circles mean that Metta’s staff help and support us whole-heartedly.
When I tried to quit opium, I heard that it’s safe to take methadone since it doesn’t cause trouble or disease . The Metta staff told me to come to Metta for methadone . If I had to buy methadone, I would not be able to buy rice or food. Because it is free, I can use my money to buy rice and food. I am happy because of this.
I really want my son to quit heroin and live happily with his wife at home. This is what I have been thinking: I want to ask my son to stop taking heroin and start taking methadone so that he would stop spending money on drugs. I also have two grandchildren who are in school now. Since their father comes and goes, I feel very upset. In the future, I really want to be happy. I’m already over 60 years old now.
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 centers in Kachin and Shan States.
 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).
 At drug users network group meetings, facilitated by Metta Development Foundation, members learn about harm reduction to reduce transmission of HIV and blood-borne diseases. During meetings, members also share their experiences and provide support to one another. Drug users network groups also actively coordinate public awareness campaigns to change public perception of PWIDs. The purpose is to reduce stigma or discrimination against PWIDs, and to increase community acceptance of harm reduction services.
 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.