Written by: Mc Carthy Samalani
Young people who live within the vicinity of YONECO’s Drop in Centre in Ntcheu district are now in smiles for having Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRH &R) information at their fingertips.
16 year old Cosmas Malipa hails from Zakutchire in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Kwataine in the district. He visits Ntcheu Youth Drop in Centre at least three times a week. Among other things, Cosmas searches for SRH & R information using the free internet service that is available at the centre. He further uses the WhatsApp to have some SRH conversations with his fellow young people or engaging the group’s moderators. The SRH & R WhatApp forum is a YONECO’s initiative and the group is called the Youth Breeze.
Cosmas attested that since he started visiting and attending ICT dialogue sessions at the Model Youth Drop in Centre, his life has been greatly transformed. He revealed that a year ago when he was in standard seven of his primary school studies, he had two sexual partners. Cosmas stated that he has now realized, through Youth Breeze discussions and information he gets on reliable internet sites, that he was exposing himself to the risk of contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) including HIV and he added that he could have also impregnated someone and consequently affect his education.
Cosmas has now made up his mind to focus on education and vowed that he will never get into a sexual relationship until he finishes his education. He further added that he sat for 2015 Primary School leaving Certificate Examinations and he is optimistic that he will be selected to secondary school.
“Thanks to YONECO for making SRH & R information available to young people like me and I never thought that one day I would be able to use a computer. Computer literacy is perceived to be for the rich and those who live in urban areas but here I am today; a simple, common young person endowed with computer skills and knowledge that is enabling me to get important information,” Said Cosmas.
With support from Unicef, Youth Net and Counseling (YONECO) through its office in Ntcheu district established a model youth drop in centre in October, 2014. Among other activities, the centre conducts SRH and R dialogue sessions with young people using face to face as well as other ICT tools like WhatsApp.
YONECO’s Ntcheu district office data indicates that on average, 40 young people attend various activities at the centre every day.