Teen Drug Problems

Drug and substance abuse have become almost insurmountable challenges in our schools. Teachers and parents are intensely struggling against these issues with their children and feel they are losing the battle. They are wondering what to do with their kids who have become zombies due to these abuses. The drugs have found a way into the schools and as much as the teachers are doing their best to check the students when they arrive at school, they somehow find a way to sneak the drugs into the buildings. Students as young as 14 years of age are being sent into rehab centers because they have become addicted to drugs. It is so sad to find young boys and girls who should be in school learning skills and advancing their lives, instead, being treated inside rehab centers for drug addition: this is every parent’s worst nightmare. We met a parent who told us she noticed something was wrong with her son, when he started locking himself in his room refusing to allow anyone to enter. Her fears were confirmed when she went into his room while he was outside talking to a friend. She took the opportunity of his absence to search his room and found a whole bunch of bangi (cannabis) stuffed inside a bag. She told us she almost collapsed in shock. After confronting her son, he admitted that not only has he been using the drug but that he is now, also a distributer. As we listened to her story, I could see how broken she was and how deeply grieved. She realizes her son is in serious need of rehab and treatment as she suspects he is using harder drugs, as well. We had this discussion at AIC Ngong today, and the girls confirmed that they know of friends hooked on drugs and, unfortunately, that those friends try to influence others to turn to drugs, as well. We revisited the topic we had covered earlier about peer pressure, reminding the girls to remain strong, so they don’t get sucked up into the vice. They are very much aware of the drugs in the market, so we taught them what we knew about the harmful effects of each. Prescription drugs have also been abused by some of the students. Cough medicine, due to easy accessibility, is one of the medicines the students are abusing.  As a result,...

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The Right Kind of Women

THE LIE. Society will give you a list of attributes that make up a ‘real’ woman and then tell you that is what every man wants, and what every woman needs to be. A real woman today smiles regardless of what she is feeling, and we all know smiling is the only way to be pretty, don’t we? Really? Who dictates what the standard of beauty should be? The concept of there being an imaginary box that all women should fit, of womanhood being quantifiable, isn’t new. The funny thing is that it’s not even the woman who decides for herself what the measure of womanhood should be. It is the people around her who have assigned themselves that role, many of them people who have no experience at being a woman. A girl can be a flight attendant but not a pilot, that is just how it is; after all, there are limitations to what a girl can do, isn’t that so? Society has created one mental image of things that a woman should be, and strive to be at all costs, especially at grave cost to herself. We are raising our daughters to aspire to only certain things. To hold their beauty as their greatest virtue. To keep quiet about their feelings. Not to openly show affection or be forward about their desires like men. THE TRUTH is that life is full of options and that all people, male and female, are created with varying talents, and gifts, and looks. The truth is that none of us were made to fit inside a box of any kind, especially a box determined by a group of strangers lacking interest in our hearts, our feelings, and with no awareness of our potentials and capabilities. Social standards are assigned to us by a group of strangers making up false norms that no one can ever really grow or shrink to fit inside. Life always gives us CHOICES. It is up to each one of us to learn to question things. It is up to us to stand against the mentality that: ‘that’s just the way it is’ and to respectfully, seek an answer that makes sense to us. It is up to each one of us to ask questions. While at it, the risk exists of being branded a social deviant. The fear of that tag, however, is in no...

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Happiness is a Choice

Managing teenage-hood, balancing school work, peer pressure, self-esteem issues, bullying, and lack of parental support are just some of the issues that a teenager must face and go through in life. Our Lesson Two at NIC Ngong was focusing on the self- esteem issues girls often struggle with so routinely. The new girls who just joined Form 1 reported that they are affected by self-esteem issues on a regular basis. Unfortunately, most of them have ‘negative’ self-esteem. They have joined high school after 8 years of being in Primary School, most of them were attending schools where they were day scholars, so they went home at the end of the day. Being in boarding school is one of the challenges these girls must handle now. They are suddenly thrown into a situation where they must cater for themselves, take care of their personal items otherwise they may well-be stolen, wake up very early in the morning for preps, and get used to a diet that is not the least bit exciting. They must shower with cold water and contend with very cold weather at the school. They feel the need to fit in with the girls who are in the upper classes, but this mostly leaves them feeling frustrated because Form 1’s are usually looked down upon by the older girls. Our mentorship class ensures that we cater to the needs of these girls. We may not have all the solutions to the issues they are going through, but we can give them mechanisms and tools to help them cope. The girls were excited to learn that happiness is a choice. No one can rely on someone to make them happy, so one must find ways to do that for themselves. Smiling when one would rather frown, sticking around positive people, helping others, reading motivational books, praying when one feels down are some of the ways to cope. We teach our girls to have a positive attitude towards life, to think of the things that are working in their lives and to give thanks for those things. Reminding them that they are privileged to be in school while some girls cannot afford a secondary education, to have parents who have sacrificed to put them through school though they are struggling financially, to have the gift of life, itself, to enjoy good health- all of these are gifts, we spoke...

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The Donkey

We were seated watching the girls at Njabini Girls School enjoy their snacks after the conclusion of The Choice Club meeting. I happened to look across the fence from the school and noticed two donkeys pulling a heavy load. These animals are referred to as ‘the beast of burden’ for a reason! They were pulling a cart of heavy laden with something that resembled sacks of potatoes. Their master was seated on top of the load, and every so often he would whip the donkeys trying to force them to walk faster. I felt sorry for the donkeys. Once they got to their destination, which was a home next to the school, the master got off the cart and off-loaded the cargo with the help of a friend. Once they were done, the donkeys seemed to know the drill; they turned around and walked off in the direction from which they had come. I guessed they were walking back home. The donkeys did not care to wait for their master; he was still talking to his friend who had helped off-load the cargo. I lost sight of the donkeys and resumed watching the girls as they excitedly enjoyed the snacks we had provided. On our way out of the school, we encountered the same donkeys on the road, still pulling the empty cart and briskly walking down the road. We had to drive around them. They honestly seemed to be in a conversation as they walked along, focused on going home. Their work was done for the day, and there was no need in hanging around doing nothing. They didn’t even stop on the road side to nibble grass; they walked on. As we continued watching these two animals, it got me thinking… In life, we all have a path we are to follow.  We innately know what we should do, but we get distracted along the way- often getting angry at those people who try to stop us from achieving our goals. The donkeys have a master that overloads them, does not feed them as often as he should, and beats them unnecessarily, evident by the marks on their bodies. Still the donkeys do not get distracted from their path, neither do they fight back. They simply do their job, and when it’s done, they move on with their lives. How wise we would be if we could...

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Financial Challenges and the Rewards of Success.

Our Choice Club meetings have continued well at the various schools. We are receiving a lot of support from the club patrons and the school principals. At Njabini Girls, the school Director spoke to us about how extremely difficult it is to deal with girls this age, especially at this time, when there is so much negative influence from the media. They are trying very hard to make sure they are making a strong contribution to bringing up girls that are morally upright and respectable members of society, but he said it is an uphill battle. The girls are very much aware of the environment around them, and the kind of stress their parents are going through just to put them through school. The school fees (around $230 per term) is a lot of money for the parents considering many have other children also attending school. We spoke to a parent who had brought her daughter for Form 1 admission. She was telling us she has delayed admitting her daughter in school because of financial challenges. She is a housewife who does odd jobs to complement her husband’s salary. The husband is a casual laborer, and it took him a long time to accumulate the fees needed for his daughter to join Form 1, especially considering they have other children in Primary School. Her prayer was that her daughter would remain focused in school and finish Form 4 without falling pregnant. She said that her worst fear was her daughter falling into the wrong company and forgetting the struggles back home. We briefly explained to her what The Choice Club is all about, and she requested that I ensure that her daughter join the club. She was very happy to hear about the topics we will be discussing at the club. Our girls in Pokot are doing well, and we have been in contact with them. One of the girls and her family had a fundraiser for her younger sister who is joining Secondary School. The family has seen the positive effect on her older sister who Valvisions put through school and who also joined college. Her older sister is now called a teacher in her village, and any one with the title of ‘teacher’ in any village in Kenya, is held in very high esteem. They have seen this daughter grow and mature to become a fine young...

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