As one way of dealing with challenges of drug and substance abuse among the youth, Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) on Tuesday engaged the youth who are in conflict with the law at Chilwa Reformatory Center in Zomba.
YONECO organised the meeting through its Mental Health project to raise awareness on the dangers of using drugs and other substances and how the youth can achieve a better life.
Communications and Mobilization Coordinator for YONECO Jacob Nyirongo expressed the need to accommodate the youth who are victims of drugs and substance abuse and other bad behaviours in order to achieve in addressing mental health issues.
Nyirongo said: ” One of the concept area in Mental Health project is to deal with stigma against people like these kids who have landed themselves into trouble due to bad behaviours including drugs and substance abuse so we don’t want people to judge them according to their status but rather accommodate and walk with them so that they are able to realize their true identity and change their lives.”
He further promised that YONECO will continue complementing government efforts of reforming the young people who are victims of such malpractices.
The principle at Chilwa Reformatory Center, Moffat Hara, praised YONECO for the project saying the initiative will help to ease the job of the institutional social workers.
“Our staff have a challenging job to reform these boys because of their troubled back grounds but now with the expertise from YONECO we believe they will help to change their mind set,” said Hara.
One of the boys being kept at the Reformatory centre, who was among the participants, Innocent Mwamadi, said the initiative has assisted in changing his mindset because he has learnt more on how the drugs, alcohol and substances affect human health.
At the meantime, Chilwa Reformatory Center is keeping 32 boys from all the regions across the country and were brought to the institution after committing various offenses.
YONECO is running a Mental Health project in collaboration with Zomba Mental Hospital with funding from Comic Relief. The project is being implemented in the three districts of Zomba, Lilongwe and Nkhotakota.