To raise awareness among local youth in the village about the negative impact of drugs and alcohol, the Umkei Sports and Cultural Club organised an Awareness Generation and Education Program on Substance & Drug Abuse and HIV & AIDS on November 10, 2023. The event, held in collaboration with the Meghalaya Police and Meghalaya Aids Control Society, took place at Umkei Village Playground.
The programme was attended by Batemon Pamshong, Clinic Psychologist of Civil Hospital Nongpoh, and Zion Marweiñ, Assistant Director of GIPA Meghalaya Aids Control Society, as resource persons. Apol Mawñiuh, Reserved Inspector 4th Battalion MLP Sohpien West Khasi Hills District, and office bearers of the Umkei Sports Club, students, and villagers were also present.
Before the awareness programme, an exhibition match between the Umkei Sports and Cultural Club and the Police Training School Umran was organised to engage the village. Umkei emerged victorious in the match with a score of 4-0.
Addressing the audience as a resource person, Batemon Pamshong emphasised the importance of taking early action and handling mental health with care. She stated, “Mental health is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly. Individuals with mental health issues often fear stigmatization when discussing mental health, and society’s criticism can be a significant problem that may lead to suicide and substance addiction. People with mental health issues initially become irritable with small issues, experience long-term depression, and later develop major depression.”
“Individuals with depression are more susceptible to falling into the trap of substance abuse. As members of society, we should not criticize those with mental health issues; instead, we should support them through counselling and friendship because they often choose to be alone,” Pamshong emphasised.
On the other hand, Zion Marweiñ discussed how young people fall into addiction, pointing out that peer pressure and family environment are common factors. She emphasised the role of parents in knowing their child’s friends and providing time and attention to foster a positive future.
The programme was enriched with special song and dance performances by the villagers of Umkei.