The minister of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare, Doreen Sioka, has warned children from Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana against using drugs and other harmful substances.
She was speaking at a World Children’s Day event at Walvis Bay on Friday.
Sioka, who was raised by a single mother, said: “It is sad that the elderly are left in the hands of the youth, but the youth are turning to drugs and alcohol.
“You need to set examples and be good leaders, as we were. Drugs and alcohol will take you nowhere. Concentrate on education. Those issues are destroying our nations. Refuse if your parents send you to buy drugs and alcohol.
“Girls, stay away from blessers. Their children are educated while they take advantage of you. I was raised by a single mother, but I worked when there was not enough and took care of my siblings.
“Think about your future.”
Speaking at the same event, South African singer and United Nations Children’s Fund goodwill ambassador Yvonne Chaka Chaka echoed these sentiments.
She said growing up in poverty and being raised by a single mother did not keep her from making it in life.
“My father died when I was 11. My mother worked as a domestic worker. I was ready to study law at 19, but there was no money.
“I found myself singing. I do not drink. Music also did not stop me from getting an education.
“I am graduating on 7 December and planning to take it further. Drugs and alcohol abuse and standing in the street begging are big problems.
“Young girls, you do not need a blesser. You are a blessing to your community, family and yourself. Work for yourself. These things will bring you problems. Go to school and get an education,” Chaka Chaka said.
A Zambian child who attended the event and uses a wheelchair, Pohamba Phiri, shared his experience as a child with a disability.
“Inclusion means to have accessible infrastructure. The bus I was travelling in had a lift for my wheelchair. The attitude barrier where I come from is a challenge. You already know what people are thinking when they see you.
“Policies that talk about inclusion and participation are not enforced. You do not really see participation from people with disabilities. How can a person who is not in a wheelchair advocate for me in a chair?” he asked.
This year’s celebrations, which were attended by about 200 children from Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, built on the momentum created in Botswana in 2021 and Zambia in 2022.
The previous engagements also involved the presidents of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and more than 500 children from the four countries.
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