ZIMBABWE National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC), brand ambassador Adiona Chidzonga has gone on massive campaign against early teen pregnancies and child marriages in rural areas.
By Michael Gwarisa recently in Mt Darwin
In an interview during the Brand Ambassador’s visit of the Youth Friendly Centre in Mt Darwin, Chidzonga bemoaned the high teen pregnancy cases in the Mashonaland Central province and blamed it on traditional beliefs and customs which normalizes early child marriages.
“The issue of teenage pregnancies in this province, in particular this district is very high. It is actually the highest in Zimbabwe. I however feel the young people here can play a part in lowering this high percentage,” said Chidzonga.
According to the ZNFPC, Mashonaland Central had the highest teenage pregnancies percentage standing at 31 percent and Matabeleland South at 30 for the year 2017.
Chidzonga however called on well-wishers to come through and assist in developing a young friendly centre with youth friendly facilities in Mt Darwin so as to capture a wider group of young people to curb idleness.
“When the youth want to play, they want to play. So what do you do as youth when you come to a youth friendly area and there are no youth friendly activities and facilities.
“I understand the youth centre here does not have some of these youth friendly facilities. Things that we take for granted like Wifi, computers, books for library among other things. This place I hear already attracts a large group already. Just imagine what would happen if the place gets these resources.”
Youth Peer educator, Pamela Nakakwilo said the youth centre had come at a time when the district was reeling from uncontrolled teenage pregnancy cases and the centre had come through to bridge that gap.
“Besides being just a place where we can meet to play and have fun, this place is more like a one stop centre for us. Vari0us services are offered here which include contraceptives, health services from the clinic as well as Sexual reproductive health education.
“This issue of teenage pregnancies is very rampart here due to the lure of cash from tobacco farming and gold mining. By spending time here, we are learning a lot and in-turn we also impart that knowledge to our peers back home,” said Pamela.
Tinotenda James another Peer educator said drug abuse was also common among young boys and some girls in the area and the youth centre if fully resourced, could go a long way in reducing this burden.
Meanwhile, the Youth Health Advisor for the Mt Darwin Youth Centre, Sister Tarisai Katenda said the youth centre has great potential but is being dragged by absence of resources.
“Basically, we offer a variety of services to these young people ranging from clinical services and counseling. However, we sometimes find it difficult to operate due to lack of Information Communication Technology (ICT) material.
“We have a Television room but the TV does not work, we have a library but the library needs more books. We also need laptops and computers so as to make it a truly friendly youth centre,” she said.