Asian Communities grieve for one of the greatest losses in the history of their movement
ANPUD expresses heartfelt Condolences on the passing of Mr. Jimmy Dorabjee
The entire Asian Network of People who use Drugs (ANPUD) family is deeply saddened to learn about the passing away of Mr. Jimmy Dorabjee – the founding Chairperson as well as dearest senior activists in the Asian region. Our team continues to mourn and finds it hard to believe that he is not with us.
On behalf of ANPUD, we would like to extend our sincere heartfelt condolences to Jimmy’s family. It is very important that our sentiments and messages do reach his family, especially his wife and children at this difficult time. At ANPUD, all of us in the Board and secretariat regard each other as a family and Jimmy was one of founding member and a Chairperson who founded this family. We are more connected to him as our source of inspiration whose presence has made difference in the lives of a lot of people in the drug using communities.
Jimmy was a globally respected visionary leader. Many of us at ANPUD found him mostly humorous, humble and fun to work with. He had been into rock bands, into drugs, prison; he was brave and was one of the few courgageous people who openly identifed as a person who uses drugs; he was a writer as well as a researcher, he was a pioneer harm reduction activist in the South Asian region and continued contributing to the movement of people who use drugs in the Asian region until his last breath. Perhaps, it is due to the thick and thins he lived through that he used to be one of the great story teller who always amazed us with his ability to heal someone in pain.
During the 2017 annual Board meeting of ANPUD, Jimmy, as the then-Chairperson asked everyone few minutes for him to speak. The room was full of young and senior members of ANPUD and all of us were about to get inspired by one of his most powerful, beautiful and honest views that he had ever expressed. He said, “I have the most beautiful family and my friend ‘Pepe’. I am not going to make it boring for everyone by sharing about my health conditions. Just know that it has been very difficult – these past several years of my life. I loved going to office to work. It was never about earning rather it is about self-respect and respect for everything that I have been blessed with. My illness should not be an issue as long as I can contribute, so I am volunteering my time. I have a son. He is young and does his rap thing. I was into rock – he is good at what he does. I will show some pictures later. As every child grows, they need to know that his old father is also contributing.”
This was unexpected but everyone in the room silently agreed as if Jimmy was telling their story. So, he continued, “I am a retired old man now. I fix everything back at home such as plumbing, electrical issues etc. but I often feel bored sitting idle at home. Now I have nothing to do and no place to be at. As I keep losing good friends one by one, it does strike to me that any moment could be my last moment. Thanks to the technology in the country I live in else I might have already died.”
“I think what I have been meaning to say is that ANPUD is my second home, my second family where I feel safe and do not have any kind of fear and pressure of being judged for who I am. I wanted to say I am here because I want to be here. Every other place limits involvement based on age, health condition, criminal records and so on. There are only 2 spaces where I feel safe and I feel I am at home – first while I am with my wife and children and second at ANPUD among people who use drugs.” – he further added.
Although there are many instances when he would speak something that would inspire and blow your mind, what he said during the 2017 meeting was precious to us, as he explained how life is about performing several different kinds of roles. He was very wise and he was kind and responsible to everyone around him.
Jimmy died in the morning of 27 November 2019 – a month after he had turned 71 years old. Although he endured his health conditions for a long time and this moment may seem like a blessing, it is still a grave loss for his family and for our movement to protect human rights of people who use drugs. Life is never quite the same when a father figure like Jimmy is no longer present, and we are extremely sorry for the hardship his family is experiencing.
The Regional Coordinator of ANPUD Mr. Anand Chabungbam also expressed himself by saying “I do not know how to express. Jimmy was one of the people I adored – genuinely good human being. He was always there for ANPUD – supporting fellow activists and young leaders. One unique thing about Jimmy was that he would easily blend in as a peer to every age group and make everyone feel accepted. I am grateful to have known him and to have worked as a staff during his tenure. He was more than a friend to me. In fact, he was a mentor who showed me humility in action and what it takes to dream and turn that dream into reality. There are so many things but it feels hard to navigate through those memories. I just miss him already.”
Jimmy used to believe in consistency. He used to tell all of us that ‘consistency’ is key to our success as an individual, group and as a human rights activists’ network (ANPUD). After his first term as founding Chairperson of ANPUD, he was very consistent in terms of proactively engaging and contributing to the overall growth of ANPUD. In 2015, Jimmy was elected for the second time as the Chairperson of ANPUD. Since 2017, he had been involved as one of the Executive Board member of ANPUD. After serving two terms as a Chairperson, it was one of his humble gesture that he enthusiastically volunteered to become an Executive member to provide all the necessary support to the new and younger generation’s leadership for ensuring a successful transition of ANPUD towards better governance system and sustainable growth of ANPUD.
Some of Jimmy’s other affiliations include, but are not limited to the Asian Harm Reduction Network (AHRN), The Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health, the UN Reference Group on HIV Prevention and Care among Injecting Drug Users, the UNODC Civil Society Group on HIV and Drug use, the Pennington Institute, etc.
Dearest Jimmy, your legacy will live within all of us forever. We have lost our founding member, a well-wisher, a friend and a fellow activist. The ANPUD Executive Board and the Secretariat Staffs pay our tribute to your commitments and will continue this journey on the paths shown by you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family and we wish that it will help everyone move through the process of grievin and healing. Please know that there are many in this world who you have inspired and who are thinking of you. May your soul Rest In Peace in Heaven!
In deep sorrow
The entire ANPUD family