Why do you think that it’s important to recognise National youth day and what will you be doing on the day?
It is an important day to recognise because in a Zambian the youth are the majority and form the highest part of the population. Whatever is going on in employment, volunteering, bus drivers, they are all young people – youth day gives people an opportunity to reflect on their lives, and what they want to do.
I will be sharing my day with the senior citizens, 65 and above – and try to find out about life, how life was, before independence compared how life is now. I want to know how they used to treat each other, to talk about issues which are happening with young people today and find out from them how it was and how we can move forward.
In Zambia females aged 14-29, orphans and vulnerable children are the most at risk of contracting HIV and. An estimated 80,000 – 100,000 HIV+ adolescents (older than 14) are not currently on treatment. What more do you think TTF can be doing to help address this issue?
Most young people are on social media – TTF need to work on a social media and social work side, having a Q&A page where individuals can post questions. We need to make sure young people are given the opportunity to understand the organisation and what we can offer. This could be done through advertising our clinic and services.
TTF also need to continue our outreaches and focus on young people and adolescents. Young people will then understand what we stand for and HIV. We also need to strengthen our women groups, coming up with a system of referrals for young people. By doing these three things we are catching people on Facebook, in the community and in an urban setting.
Working as a social worker for TTF you deal with young people all the time, what are some of the main issues you see for the Urban youth of Zambia?
Firstly working as a social worker is a great opportunity to learn a lot of issues happening for fellow young people. I see how young people behave compared to rural setting. I grew up in a rural area and a lot of issues I have seen are very different – youth in urban areas suffer a lot with peer pressure. Young people have a lot of pressure, they are not able to make decisions on their own but only as a group. This pressure means they engage in illicit activities or sexual activities before they are ready.
Young people who find out they are HIV+ find it difficult to go to the clinic. They don’t understand why they have been affected – they have self stigma and this delays them getting treatment and support. People who aren’t positive but also suffer a lot of other issues such as teenage pregnancies also don’t go to the government clinics because they feel pressured and judged. In an African set up elders can tell you off, even when they are not your family. This makes young people shun away from accessing services. Government used to have youth friendly centres in the clinic to reinforce young people being seen by a doctor – however these are no longer active.
The theme for this year’s national youth day is: Youth Building a Stable and Sustainable Future. How do you think today’s youth can build sustainable futures for themselves?
Advocacy - young people should be the mouthpiece for themselves. They should advocate for their rights and what they want the public and government to do for them and also what they want the international community to do for them.
Young people need to work in a unit and together and have an open mind. The problem is they may be given an opportunity and make some money but they don’t invest money into entrepreneurship but spend it on alcohol. Young people need to think about the future not just today. We need to think beyond, think on a new page, don’t just think about early independence. We need to think about what we want to happen.
If you could get the leaders of Zambia to do one thing to support youth today – what would it be and why?
The government has a Minister of youth and sports, which was designed for youth – however they have sidelined most of the young people and don’t engage them in the ministry. They need to address youth in different sectors of the community. Young people need an opportunity to help run their own ministry, then the ministry will be offering what the young people want. All current ministers who have held this post have been above 35. If we can’t have a youth minister then a deputy minister below the age of 35 will help the government connect with youth.