Windhoek- Over 80 learners from various schools in Okahandja marched through the streets of the relatively quiet town last week urging fellow young people to abstain from alcohol and drug abuse, as well as unsafe sexual practices.
Waving placards brandishing positive messages the learners chanted slogans, such as ‘stop teenage pregnancy, ‘stop alcohol abuse’, ‘open your books’, ‘close your legs’ and ‘say no to sugar daddies’.
Their final stop was Okahandja Primary School sports field, where messages on alcohol abuse and sexual reproductive health were delivered. The majority of those who participated in the event are peer educators, who would take the message to their fellow learners.
Nineteen-year-old Elia Ngilishange and 16-year-old Hanely Diergaardt are concerned about the high number of young people who abuse alcohol and drugs in the town.
“Young people concentrate on entertainment, which involves alcohol and drug abuse, because there are no recreational facilities and extramural activities for the youth to keep themselves busy,” says Ngilishange. This leads to many young people engaging in risky sexual behaviour, he adds.
Diergaardt chips in that many young people abuse alcohol and drink to suppress pain and anger. “It (alcohol and drugs) can comfort them, but it’s not the solution to their problems. It only leads to young people dropping out of school and not concentrating on their work,” says Diergaardt, adding that young people with problems should rather confide in someone that they trust.
The event also served as a platform to promote the programmes and activities that the ‘Star for Life’ organisation is conducting in schools and communities. Okahandja Secondary School, JG van der Walt, Ovitoto-based KJ Kapeua Combined School and the KW von Marees Combined School were among the schools that participated.
“The same event took place last year in Windhoek with 120 learners from the Khomas Region,” says Anneli Kashenye of the ‘Star for life’ organisation.
Star for life is a non-profit organisation based in Namibia, South Africa and Sweden. It was launched in 2007 as a school-based life skills HIV and Aids prevention programme that provides theyouth with information to motivate them to make informed decisions and help reduce the risk of new HIV infections amongst young people.