Protecting the youth through seminars and activities

Caring for Impact Ministries (CIM) is an NGO that promotes life in all its fullness among the youth in the Kigali.

It holds a meeting every December and brings together youth with the aim of educating and creating awareness on drugs.

They do this in partnership with Conquerors, a youth group that focuses on teenage counselling.

Participants are normally from secondary schools and tertiary institutions.

This year, CIM is planning to have a workshop during which they will engage the youth in different talks on drugs. They will also have games meant to explain the consequences of abusing drugs.

According to organisers, this will help them understand everything they’ve been taught already, as they get to put it into practice.

What to know

Emmanuella Mahoro, a psychologist working with CIM, says according to a report from the Police, at least 4,149 people have committed drug-related crimes; and 71 out of 100 are between 18 to 35 years old.

According to experts, this kind of gathering that brings together the youth is important, as it helps educate them on different things that can ruin their lives.

John Nzayisenge, the director of Kigali Harvest School in Kigali, says whenever students are on a break, parents and other stakeholders in education should organise such seminars where educative information is shared.

He says that during this time, it’s normal for many students to be idle.

“Because many of these students are teenagers, it’s no surprise that they will use the time to explore new experiences, which at times leads them to risky behaviour, depending on the environment they are in, and the group they hang around with,” he says.

Mahoro says parents should limit the time their children spend on social media, and that this is a result of not spending enough time with them.

She notes that this contributes to the exposure to bad vices, adding that there is a need to sensitise parents as well.

“A parent with teenagers should be cautious and set aside time for them. They shouldn’t be too controlling, and should always listen whenever they try to communicate with them,” he says.

Other organisations

Another organisation that has come to help fight drugs among the youth is Mizero Care Organisation (MoC), a local non-government organisation that helps promote health through psychotherapy services under Mizero Care Joy project (MCJP) and Mizero Care Health project (MCHP).

According to the founder Iréné Mizero, every December, they gather the youth, mainly the survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, with the aim of integrating the ones living in isolation.

“In doing this, it not only helps them feel cared for, but it also keeps them away from indulging in bad vices, including drug use,” he says.

Apart from that, Mizero says when they meet, the youth are taken through different activities and are educated on different issues concerning them.

For instance, he says, they provide them with psychological support which gives them a positive attitude towards life, and helps them indulge in productive activities always.

Helping the youth

Because the youth need to explore their own limits and abilities, Sylvester Twizerimana, a psychologist who also works with MoC, says parents and guardians need to give them attention where necessary so that they can express themselves.

He says that it’s only through this that they will be able to become independent adults. And that because they are still growing and their brains haven’t fully matured, it’s easy for them to make bad decisions; which in the end could lead them to trouble.

He says parents should advise them accordingly, and help them make decisions whenever they are in a tricky spot. This, he says, can only be achieved if parents create time for them and also get involved in their day-to-day activities.

He adds that it’s important for parents and the community at large to set time for the youth to talk about issues they may have, and also discuss behaviour and consequences they are likely to be involved in.

“This can help them learn to tackle problems and at the same time, handle the situation well,” he says.

To avoid cases where some students go against the advice given to them by elders, Twizerimana says while talking or guiding them, guardians/mentors or parents shouldn’t make their point through harsh measures.

Nzayisenge says it’s important for parents to get to know their children better, and that they shouldn’t take concern from a friend, relative or elder about their children for granted.

He says this can help prevent or protect children from further trouble. Nzayisenge says that building a strong relationship with these learners is important as it helps them know how to handle pressure or avoid friends that are of bad influence to them.

Jackeline Irabagiza, a counsellor and matron, says parents who are strict with their children are also part of the problem.

She says that giving children some freedom is important and they should be given room to express how they feel. They should be allowed to explore, within reason, to be aware of how things are.

“What is needed is to educate them and provide counselling. Depending on how parents raise their children, it shouldn’t be a problem for these youngsters to understand and follow what they are told,” she says.

She adds that the problem is also with environments that restrict or even expose youngsters to things that will have a negative impact on their lives.

She says that there is always a need to monitor children, especially when found to have a problem so that it is dealt with accordingly.