By Vivian Agaba & Joan Mbabazi
KAMPALA – Drug abuse and alcoholism among the youth in Kawempe Division has become rampant, making teenagers in the area a menace, a councillor in the division has said.
Most of these young people are reported to be involved in crime – mostly theft, robbery, rape and prostitution.
Alizati Ssembuya Nalongo, the vice chairperson in charge of education in Kawempe, and also a division councilor there, said many youths in the area are idle. As such, she said, they spend most of their time abusing drugs and consuming alcohol.
She added: “70% of youth in the division are abusing drugs, taking alcohol and prostitution is also very high here. This is very worrying and something has to be done.”
‘Forget the past’
The local leader was speaking as the guest of honor at the third graduation ceremony for the Youth Get Together Foundation Skills Resource Centre (YGTF) at Garden Hotel in Kawempe on Friday.
In her delivery, she said it is the role of government, local leaders, NGOs and community-based organisations to come to the rescue of these youth.
It is understood the drug abuse problem is most rife in Bwaise 1 and 2, Makerere 3, Kivulu, and areas around Bishop Mukwaya.
On his part, Joseph Osire, who is the founder of YGTF asked the graduands to forget their past and focus on working hard to succeed ahead.
“Forget the past and move on because there is hope after suffering. Work hard to have a successful future.”
Ruth Birungi, who represented the executive director of African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), asked parents to make homes friendly environments for children.
“During our work here in Kawempe, we have realized the importance of working towards strengthening traditional child protection systems especially the family as the first ring of protection for children,” she said.
She added: “From our baseline findings, most of the girls – 80% – run away from home due to lack of care and mistreatment at home.
YGTF is a community-based organization located in Kawempe division that was founded in 2011 to help vulnerable children especially girls living in slum areas to train and equip them with hands-on skills necessary for earning a living.
It partnered with ANPPCAN-Uganda chapter in a three-year project to train young girls that were former victims of commercial sex and those that were rehabilitated from exploitation as they worked in bars, lodges, and night clubs and train them in the areas of hair dressing and cosmetology, tailoring, and fashion design and catering.
The training, which is free of charge, lasts nine months. ANPPCAN finances the training all the way.
A total of 70 girls graduated and were awarded certificates in their respective fields of specialization. They were also given special packages by ANPPCAN as startup kits.
The 47 that did tailoring were given a full package of sewing machines, the six(6) that did hair dressing and cosmetology were given hair products including shampoo, driers while the 17 that training in catering were given a packet of floor, cooking oil and a charcoal stove.
Although some in this group were already employed in some hotels in Kampala, the kits were to motivate them to start up their own businesses.