By Maria Kandjungu
YOUNG people who live in informal settlements in the Khomas region last week sat down with First lady Monica Geingos to talk about the challenges facing them. During the panel discussion the youth from the settlement spoke of some of the major challenges that they face, including the lack of basic services and safe leisure centres or playgrounds and said they were daily exposed to alcohol abuse and violence in their local environment. “When you drove into here (Goreangab informal settlement) how many clinics did you see? Yet you saw bars everywhere, so that is what we are exposed to,” Judith Willem said while moderating the discussion. She said with the escalation in the number of shebeens in informal settlements, young adults were exposed to the evils of public and domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse on a daily basis. “We learn from the elders and the only thing we see around here is alcohol, we see people every time of the day walking around with bottles of beer and so we grow up around that,” one of the young panelists said, adding that the social environment gives them mostly bad examples and there were few people who encourage the children to do differently. “We see more bad than good in these communities. We group around these things and we trythem or look forward to trying them. You find young under-aged children drunk, but who is selling them the alcohol? It’s grown-up people.”
THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND US The panelist also pointed out that another serious challenge faced by young people is the poor parent-child relationship and lack of parental support. “We are not talking to our parents because we feel like they do not understand us, they just cannot relate to us or help us to try and find a solution to the problem, they often turn it into a lecture comparing our time to their time… It is better to talk to an outsider.” They however noted that the outsiders they can talk to do not include health workers as young people often feel stigmatised and judged by them and therefore they have only each other to talk to about their problems. “There is lack of role models and sound support from grown people. There are few to no people in this community who can relate and talk to us about the issues we face as teenagers, so apart from the Be Free campaign engagements and youth centres (which are far from the informal settlements) we do not know anyone,” panelist Alina Daniel said.
BE MORE PRO-ACTIVE First Lady Geingos said the challenges faced by the youth today were not that different compared to what they faced back then, although in her youth society was however not as tolerant as today. “The difference is that communities’ attitudes have changed. For us, everyone’s parent was in your business,” Geingos said. She said although she does not excuse the fact that the youth in Namibia are not empowered, young people can empower themselves by being more pro-active in their community and by advocating for issues and services that affect them and so bring about change and improvement in society. “There are few youth that are active in issues that have nothing to do with politics. The youth also need to organise themselves and collectively demand for change. Who is advocating for libraries in your communities? Who is advocating for safe transportation. “Speak for your reality because no one will speak it for you. Be the face of the informal settlement and demand services which are your basic rights,” she implored them, adding that they have access to the most powerful tool, information through social media, but most of them were using it wrongly. “You are however using it wrongly. Use it constructively [to improve your life] instead of looking at other people’s lives, making rude comments on my page. You are too focused on other people’s lives,” she advised. The panel discussion was attended by learners at both primary and the secondary school level, with one social worker, a registered nurse, life skills teacher, church leader, parent and member of the City police, who works in community policing. Apart from the debates, the young adults were given a presentation on accessing job markets and developing their own brand, and were entertained by award-winning artist Gazza.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015