Day before yesterday, I was having a late lunch at Baazaaru Hotaa and as I finished lunch a person I know walked into the hotaa. He saw me and came towards me. He said that he was hoping to meet me, walked over and sat in a chair beside me.
He is a person I know from an island I have been on often and am familiar with. This person (let’s call him Ahmed) told me that he wanted my help to find a way to send a younger brother to Guraidhoo, where the Center for the Disabled is. I told him the best would be to visit the Ministry of Health and Family. And that they would be the best party to help, as they are the party responsible for social security.
Ahmed asked me where this Ministry is. I gave him directions and explained to him that it is the office without a nameboard in front of Food Bank on Sosun Magu. He told me that he has been there and that they said the center is full and there is nothing they can do. He said he’s been going there for the last eight months. And the ministry responsible for social security tells him there’s nothing they can do!
I suggested that he speak with the MP for his constituency, in that case. He said that he spoke to the MP face to face prior to the recently held local council elections. According to Ahmed, the MP told him that he had spoken to the relevant authorities and the needful would be done. That was just after the elections. Ahmed has been waiting for that to happen, till now.
He said that he brought his brother to Male’ this time and was going from place to place to find away to put him in a shelter where he could be taken care of. The thing is that there is only one such place in the country and they are refusing to take him in. He is out of options!
Ahmed said that his brother has beaten up a family member and has also been creating trouble with the neighbors. The neighbors then take up issue with Ahmed’s family. Ahmed says he understands the anger of the neighbors. According to Ahmed, his brother has at times put lighted cigarette butts into dresses of his children too. The women folk at home are not able to look after him.
According to Ahmed his brother is psychiatric patient. There is no way for him to earn a living when he has to look after his brother by his side every minute of the day. He cannot go to work because he will not be able to chain up the brother. Ahmed says, if the brother is put in a room and locked he will break up everything inside. So he is completely helpless and running out of ends and means.
Ahmed expects me to help him find a way. What do I tell him!
I tried to explain to Ahmed that this was not something that an individual like I can help. Also, to explain to him that I was not in a position to influence the decisions of the government agencies who were responsible for this.
The case of Ahmed is a case of many. Yet, there is a lack of personnel in the health sector to cater for psychiatric patients and those suffering from mental health issues, in the form or doctors and social workers. We seem to be waiting for the situation to explode or for God to take care of it! The rising counts of domestic violence and self-inflicted harm and even suicides and attempted suicides, do not seem to alarm those who have taken responsibility for it.
Perhaps, it is the collective Maldivian psyche that God High and Above will take care of us without an effort, just like He saved us with an explosion that went sour.