Every 31st May, the world comes together to commemorate the World No-tobacco Day. This year, we take the opportunity to reflect on the life of the youths who are among the largest tobacco consumers, compared to other age groups.
Tobacco consumption among youths is associated to a number of causes including the broken household and societal structure among others that drive the youth to replace everything with use of cigarettes and other tobacco products. As a result, challenges such as the heart disease burden or cancer, physical, mental distress, lawlessness and hopelessness come into play.
This year’s theme is “We need food, not tobacco” and it relates well with what we need to do if we are to get something out of the lives of this young generation. They can be involved in food production because they see the results quickly and benefit them directly.
For instance, at Reach Out Mbuya Community Health Initiative (ROM), youth welfare is at the center of her strategic programing
and it is true tobacco is a common substance used among ROM served communities. Commemorating this day is significant in ROM’s efforts to serve members of the urban poor slum community where main beneficiaries are the youth who live to experience all sorts of unhealthy lifestyles and risky behaviors.
For this reason, there is need to help them jump out of such difficult situations by engaging them in more attractive but important activities and to achieve this, ROM has employed different tactics for youth in Nakawa Division.
Through a holistic approach to care and treatment, all her beneficiaries including the youth are fully served to live a dignified life. To this, various interventions ranging from our peer-to-peer model to second chance schooling and life skills programs are run to help the youth escape tobacco consumption.
They are trained in practical entrepreneurship and life skills to spur positive mindset change and promote employability through engaging in different businesses using the available resources. As a result, their level of productivity is increased as they are able self-sustaining income generating projects/activities so that they are able to generate money to meet their personal needs, access adequate, safe and nutritious foods through socially acceptable ways.
This has fully helped in improving the level of productivity among youth living in these communities through availing employment and employability opportunities, entrepreneurial and life skills aimed at mass increase of youth attainment of practical skills. The skills have enabled them attain their long-term goals, improve their welfare and transform their communities.
Bildard Ekinu in his vegetable garden. He was sponsored by ROM under the Orphans and Vulnerable children program.
If we increased efforts to help these young people through such programs, we shall build their resilience for job creation, employability, access to sexual and reproductive health rights information and services, protection against abuse and exploitation, increased level of civic awareness among most vulnerable youths and their families.
With this support system, the youth will be able to manage the most challenging and regrettably unavoidable situations in life and it will be fulfilling to see a beam of hope among the country’s young generation.
Authored by Michael Buwembo,
Community Support officer at Reach Out Mbuya Community Health Initiative.