March 25, 2019

The burden of depression has become a huge issue in our country. The last week we have experienced an increase in cases of suicide amongst the youth. The latest case was of an 8-year-old boy who hung himself outside his mother’s house.

Most of the suicide cases have been reported in the universities and institutions of higher learning. Mental health issues can no longer be ignored. One of the girls who took her life posted on social media saying goodbye to her daughter and her parents. She stated she was tired of disagreements with the father of her baby, and she had had enough. People took to social media encouraging her to hold on and to think of her daughter, while others made fun of her calling her an ‘attention seeker.’  At the end of the day, she took her life.

We faced a similar challenge in one of the schools where we offer the mentorship program. A certain girl was found having written on her hands and other parts of her body that she wanted to die. After a lot of interrogation from her teachers, she broke down yet refused to talk other than to say: ‘she wanted to die.’ We took her aside, and also tried to talk with her. She finally opened-up about what she was going through and though we offered much in the way of counseling and hugging her as she broke down, she still said she wanted to die. Her parents were called to school. We offered to help her obtain counselling if the parents are not able to get her help. We were sad to learn that the girl is still at school; the parents never came to pick her up. They could be ignoring her thinking she’s trying to seek attention. But, in truth, the girl needs help; hers is a cry for help.  Parents need to understand that depression is a disease like any other.

As schools close next week, my hope is that she will get help. We have offered to walk with her through her pain, and we plan to visit her during the holidays and encourage her parents to allow her to get counselling.

Broken relationships, poverty, mental sickness, lack of parental guidance, low self-esteem, lack of jobs, poor grades are but a few causes of depression. Mentorship and professional counselling are needed in schools on a regular basis; these needs can no longer be over-looked.

The mentorship classes continue in all the schools. Schools close next week on the 4th and resume the first week of May. Our Pokot girls are preparing to resume college as soon as schools close. They are looking forward to getting away from the unbearable drought that has ravaged their village.

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