Ministry challenged by vulnerable youth on Katima streets

KATIMA MULILO: The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare is battling to keep vulnerable youth off the streets, even after rehabilitation efforts, a senior social worker at Katima Mulilo, Elsie Saushini, has said.

In an interview with Nampa, Saushini said some youths, despite having homes, appear to prefer to spend time on the streets, engaging in begging and other activities.

According to the 2023 statistics, the ministry screened 28 youth, aged between 16 and 14, with 80 per cent of them being male. Saushini said they hail from informal settlements.

‘These children come from informal settlements like Macaravani East and West and Dairy with single parents, mostly mothers. The fathers are not in the picture,’ Saushini said.

She said some of the youths live with their grandparents, who may lack the strength and energy to effectively monitor and guide them. Some attend school in the morning but return to the streets after school to beg for money and food. Some have transitioned from begging to sellin
g small items like sweets, eggs, and vegetables for their upkeep, despite being registered for social grants, the social worker said.

In an attempt to address the rising number of youth on the streets, Saushini said the ministry investigates each case and explores alternative living arrangements with families before considering foster homes.

‘However, the allure of street life, particularly the financial gains, often draws them back to the streets,’ she said.

Saushini cautioned about the dangers associated with adopting street life as a lifestyle, including potential involvement in drug and alcohol abuse, as well as prostitution. She urged parents to collaborate in monitoring and discouraging street life among their children.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency