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Blow to teenage pregnancies, FGM, forced marriages and drug abuse among adolescents as young leaders emerge with plans

Blow to teenage pregnancies, FGM, forced marriages and drug abuse among adolescents as young leaders emerge with plans

Kapenguria,

Saturday March 23, 2024

KNA by Richard Muhambe

To stamp out retrogressive practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), teenage pregnancies, early forced marriages and drug abuse among teenagers, a mentorship and empowerment programme undertaken by a section of youth has been initiated to curb the menace in West Pokot County.

The initiative has been mooted in marginalised pastoral areas where the vices have been considered rampant, overstretching the efforts being undertaken by the government and Non-Governmental Organisations.

According to various stakeholders, approaches in wiping out the harmful practices in pastoral areas of West Pokot County have been termed weak in the past years making the vices continue to exist.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) 2022 Demographic and Health Survey Report places West Pokot County second in teenage pregnancies at 36 percent and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) at 44 percent.

The new strategy by the youthful leaders aims at complimenting efforts to support the government and NGOs in the fight against the outlawed practices among adolescents in pastoralist communities.

The programme under the SMACHS Foundation under the stewardship of President William Ruto’s Daughter Charlene Ruto aims to empower young men and women, foster resilience, self-confidence, and create a positive mindset among adolescents.

The entourage led by young Lawyer Kevin Kachapin, son to West Pokot Governor Simon Kachapin, camped in the region for days touring more than 20 schools within the County offering mentorship and empowerment lectures to learners with an aim of bringing about change towards the retrogressive cultural practices.

“We want our children to embrace education. Every child has a right to a good life irrespective of the family status they were born from,” said Ms. Ruto.

She took the young girls through the dangers of teenage pregnancies, FGM and early forced marriages explaining that there was need to closely engage the youth on matters regarding the vices that have ruined many, especially the girl child.

“Don’t accept boys to cheat you. They will leave you alone as some pursue their life goals,” she advised.

She underscored the value of synergy in youth empowerment through ensuring that those lagging behind are uplifted in order to exhibit their dreams.

“The hidden treasures being popularised in West Pokot according to me are you young girls and boys. Let us not allow this special treasure to slip out of our control,” appealed Ms. Ruto.

The young leaders visited bee keepers at Serewo and Kapenguria blood bank satellite with clarion calls for youth to invest in their talents promising to assist them to spot markets for their ventures.

“The talents will create opportunities and take you far. Apart from your academics, make good attempts in sports during your leisure time to identify and nurture them since none of you misses one or two of a talent,” she posed thanking the host Kevin Kachapin for the initiative to bring together likeminded young men and women to champion mentorship and empowerment in the region.

While at Tartar Girls’ Primary School, Kevin regretted that teenagers engaged in drug abuse while still in school urging them to shun the behaviour for the sake of a bright future.

“You cannot make it in school and in life when you start engaging in drugs and alcohol abuse. Make education your first priority for success and good health. In West Pokot, poverty and hunger are our major challenges and we have to make education our front agenda,” he stated, imploring learners to have a vision in life.

He said the programme, which was new in the county, would be focusing on ensuring young people develop necessary skills and knowledge they needed to become self-reliant when they get to adulthood.

“Confidence, self-esteem and self-worth are all built from the youthful age and each one has the potential of realizing them. Mentorship is an indispensable part of youth empowerment programmes and it plays a pivotal role in exposing young people to novel opportunities and experiences,” said Lawyer Kachapin while elaborating that the pain of regrets was more than the pain of discipline.

He said young girls and the fight against retrogressive cultures have started showing positive results especially those in primary and secondary schools in low income areas.

He pointed out that the programme would enable young girls in the area to have a different mindset especially with empowerment initiatives by various stakeholders.

The young lawyer recalled that many teenagers dropped out of school for marriage, opening a vicious circle of desperation occasioned by the retrogressive vices.

Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii’s son Bill Chelilim added that the programme also deals with mental health among youth citing that many have lost their bearing for lack of such support.

West Pokot County Sports and Culture Chief Officer Edwin Pkemei rallied youth to actively engage in sports saying the county administration is concerned about the protection of the girl child against any harm.

Courtesy; KNA

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