Geingos runs with youth on #BeFree campaign

By Annines Angula

IT was exactly 07h30 this past weekend when Namibia’s First lady Monica Geingos donned her training kit to join a group of youth, including teachers, parents and various service providers for a 3km walk in the area around the State House.

Right after the walk, the youth were accompanied inside State House by the staff of the Presidency for a grand tour while the importance of some places inside were explained.The banqueting hall was full. There were dances, loud music and intense dialogue.

#BeFree initiative brought together the young people, parents, counsellors, dancers, musicians, teachers and health expert. To top it all, President Hage Geingob was also present for the afternoon event at State House. #BeFree aims to give young people the information, knowledge and tools needed to prevent violence.

The movement is to create a non-judgmental, inclusive platform which encourages honest and robust dialogue and information-sharing on matters that prevent young people from freeing themselves of the things that hold them back. It also acts as a bridge builder between those suffering trauma and those responsible for frontline trauma services.

Geingos, who was appointed in 2016 as UNAIDS Special Advocate for Young Women and Adolescent Girls and who champions the Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free agenda—wanted to create an environment where young people would be comfortable talking about the challenges they face and what it will take for them to feel empowered to make smart life decisions.

A number of parents dropped off their children for the event and ended up staying after hearing a few of the more than 100 participants, aged 15-24 years, speak from their hearts. Panel discussions covered a range of issues, including cyber-bullying, rape and the challenges parents face when raising their children.

“As parents we struggle to guide our children on what’s right and wrong. We need to update ourselves on the language that our children speak by logging into their wifi,” said Johan Ndjaronguru.

Alina Daniel, a Grade 12 learner at Ella Du Plessis Secondary school urged social media users to filter their words before they post anything. "Before you post something on social media, please ask yourself if the information is true, is it necessary to post, is it legal to post?" Daniel advised.

“Learners learn from each other. At school, they are exposed to different learners from different backgrounds; parents should unlearn the idea that their children should learning everything at school as the child may learn bad habits,” Delphia Jimmy, a teacher by profession explained.

Young people were also  encouraged to share their own stories, and one could literally hear a pin drop when a 27-year-old man told his story about the consequences of excessive alcohol use that changed his life forever and made him an inmate at the Windhoek Correctional Facilities. Counsellors were on hand to provide advice and care.