Saturday, 24 March 2018

Drug and Substance Abuse as a Survival Tool: Where the Youth Miss the Point

Apart from the escalation rate of unemployment and bulging population in urban areas in the country. Young people should be able to rise up, wise up and sense up the sole goal benefit of self-reliance and self-sufficiency.

Since independence, we were made to believe that education would attain us better employment and earn extra exorbitant remuneration packages. But, today, the reality is far from what we expected - a paradise in psychological limbo.

Young people both graduates and non-certificated ones are all struggling and they are finding hard to survive. A cross section of young people belonging to various youth groups are financially dependent on their parents or guardians. Frustrations and agony lead them to find ‘refuge’ in using hard drugs and cheap liquor. These are the substances which are locally available in the streets: marijuana, liquor, glue ect. Disappointment after being let down by girlfriend, changes in their socioeconomic status or just a bad moment in everyday business. Despite the fact that these are temporal matters that could be solved by other means and the last one being resorting to drug and substance abuse.

One could question that this dependency syndrome is it drug abuse first and the syndrome second or the venture is interchangeable. It is important for parents to give hope to struggling young people who are addicted to drugs and substances so that they should see the light at the end of the tunnel and find a reason to quit.

Too much drug abuse tarnishes the vision of prosperity. I as a once-addicted survivor, I had lost hope as I was staying with my parents. I almost resented virtues of academic brilliance and progress to achieve great things in life. Long term plans like building my own house and investing in certain business ventures seemed pointless. The following are quotes which many young people used to break free from the cocoon of drug and substance addiction.

o   “I got sick and tired of living the same way day-in-day-out, until a sense of sobriety flashed my mind like lightening”. In its crystal light, I decided to take Total control of my life.

o   “I can pull myself together and willingly achieve better things in life”. That drew my focus and made me to have an affinity of being creative in everything I do. I began to pay attention to sound advice and people who had and are killing it big time.

o   “Stop brooding about trivial things which do not amount to your vision and strategy”. I had to make a decision and surely I did.

o   “Assert yourself in readiness to change and to represent yourself”. I decided to clean myself up and free my soul to be vibrant and independent.

o   “Reflect on positive values more often”. I realized that negativity will take me nowhere and it was true because a few days after focusing on positive vibes, I was a different person all together.

On last thing: Keep on listening to Total Turnaround Radio Programme on YONECO FM every Saturday evening between 19:30 – 20:00! 

The Blog was written by Mabhuchi Nyasulu - A Counsellor as well as Presenter and Producer of Total Turn Around Radio Programme 

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Women, ‘How are You Today?’

The world today needs to take stock of what has been achieved in the promotion of women’s rights and their participation in political, social, and economic spheres in the past 41 years.  This stock taking exercise being proposed here begins in 1977, the year in which United Nations General Assembly invited member states to declare 8 March as the UN Day for Women’s rights.

The question we need to ask ourselves is on whether as an individual, Civil Society Organization (CSO), and governments have really contributed towards attainment and realization of women’s rights at various levels. This is a battle that started long time ago even before the actual International Women's Day (IWD) was proclaimed by the UN and its member states.  

Narrowing this issue to Malawi as a country, I can see a commendable progress. There are some areas we have tremendously done well while some aspects still need to be accentuated. It may not be fair to use a relative measure in terms of finding out how Malawi has performed in terms of promoting women’s rights and welfare. Malawi and many other southern African countries had serious challenges that emanated from deep rooted patriarchal tendencies that were inherited from the ‘ancestors’. Thus, comparing where we are coming from and what we have done so far is a clear indication that with effort and sustenance of the current momentum, we will achieve!   

According to the current Malawi Demographic Health Survey (MDHS), the country has an average of 4.4 children. This is a decrease from 6.7 children per women in 1992. This represents a dramatic decline of 2.3 children and translates to improved health and welfare of women in the country. Further to this, the enactment of the Gender Equality Act, Marriage Divorce and Family Relations Act as well as other gender-related laws really prove how serious Malawi is in its efforts of trying to achieve gender equality. Malawi once had a female president who was voted as a presidential running-mate and became president after the death of the then incumbent President, the late Bingu Wa Muthalika. Let us also note the progress in terms of university selection at the University of Malawi whereby the 2015/2016 intake shows that a total of 1,919 students were selected to pursue various courses. This is a move away from the time when a very few females had a chance to reach secondary school.

CSOs in Malawi also deserve a pat on the back for raising awareness about women’s rights, women empowerment initiatives, spearheading the war against Gender Based Violence (GBV) and many other commendable efforts. CSO should really be applauded - ‘Ending GBV starts with reporting GBV’ and YONECO’s toll-free Gender Based Crisis Line is there to fill this gap. It helps to ensure that women have a confidential alternative reporting mechanism. Further to this, the line is a source of information as well as a tool where women access psychosocial counselling on GBV. GBV awareness campaigns that have been conducted across the country have contributed to increased understanding of women’s rights so much that women are now able to voice out their rights. 

Despite the numerous milestones, there is also a need to acknowledge that GBV is still prevalent in the country and in 2014 USAID included Malawi as one of 35 GBV priority countries due to the high rates of child marriage in the country. Women’s participation in decision making processes is still a challenge and the country is still grappling with the problem of child marriage.

This year, the World is commemorating the #IWD under the theme; Time is Now, Urban and Rural Activists Transforming Women’s Lives. This theme befits the current efforts in women empowerment programme by various players. 

The International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. Let us further remember that the fight for women’s rights is not a once off activity and let the fight continue after the commemoration.

Further to this, women should be given more spaces. Sometimes we may feel we are making positive strides while we are creating new problems. For instance, we can increase the number of women in politics but then their meaningful participation is the democratic processes could be limited. This is why there is a need to understand that it is more than just the figures.

This is your day: women, how are you today?