Margina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, uses Drugreporter’s short film about their harm reduction service as an advocacy tool. Read about the process, and a review of the film written by a medical student.
The Drugreporter team produced last year a short film about Margina, a harm reduction service in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and its struggles for funding. Margina’s staff continued their work voluntarily even after the funding stopped and have done so ever since. They used the film at several events as an advocacy tool to convince donors and government officers to support their lifesaving work among people who use drugs.
List of the events where Margina campaigned with the film and experts:
- Third session of CCM of Bosnia and Herzegovina held in Sarajevo
- Addressing HIV and TB Challenges: from Donor Support to Sustainable Health Systems, Tallin, Estonia
- Training for Government Officers – EU Project “Youth at Risk”
- A dialogue between civil society and donors
- Averting health and rights crisis in South Eastern Europe
- Building Partnerships to Sustain HIV Prevention Services for Key Populations, Belgrade, Serbia
Read the review by Emrina Golub, a medical student who attended the screening, and the discussion after:
A while ago we presented a movie about the drug and NGO related situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Medical Faculty in the University of Zenica. Many of the facts stated alarmed me and I will further elaborate my stance on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Even though the film is only 13 minutes long, it shines a light on a very important topic in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina: that drug addiction has been a result of the shock of wartime and a poor economic situation in the whole country.
I appreciate how tasteful and respectful the portrayal of people struggling with drug addiction is and how they are included into the society even with their struggles. Meeting these volunteers and hearing their struggles and how they are not paid for their backbreaking and herculean tasks is quite a shocking revelation.
These people deserve all the respect in the world because they deal with people who the majority of others would consider very difficult to work with. Some are even scared of approaching people who struggle with drug addiction. Giving these people the opportunity to acquire clean needles and syringes, even though a mere Band-Aid, is life-saving for them.
Other people may not realise how difficult it is to deal with drug addiction and the stigma attached to it, especially in a social setting such as Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Even though the war ended many years ago the wounds are still fresh in many people’s minds. Poverty, low opportunities for development and so on lead to depression among young people and the easiest escape route is often, unfortunately, opiates. So, it’s not that difficult to understand why and how someone would resolve to use drugs in such a country.
The statistical data about how many people have hepatitis C was very alarming and concerning, but the fact that Zenica has the lowest rate of hepatitis C is a glimmer of hope for other cities and NGOs. So, it is obvious that this system is working and that other cities should implement it as well.
The only problem is that the government is not very interested in helping these people and it sees no hope in such projects. This is not surprising given the economic situation and other struggles this country faces. I am of the opinion that only young people have the power to shift the current political climate and that we should encourage more volunteers to contribute to society.
Another thing I would like to address is police brutality towards people who may not be drug dependent but are considered suspicious merely by their appearance. As the man in the interview said, having only needles with you can lead to you being beaten by the police. This unfortunately is not exaggerated and it is very true. The treatment these people get should end at once because they are not the problem here, they’re not the ones producing and selling drugs they’re just the last link in the chain.
To summarise, Margina and other NGOs are doing a very good job, but more work needs to be done and the government should be more concerned with these issues. The work of these volunteers is saving many lives and nothing is more important than that.