NGOs tackle teenage pregnancy, empower 300 Lagos youths

A non-governmental organisation, Youth Development and Empowerment Initiative has empowered over 300 adolescents in seven communities in Ibeju Lekki Local Government Area of Lagos State, with the right information on sexual and reproductive health and rights, to reduce the rate of teenage pregnancy in the area.

YEDI disclosed that over 80 per cent of teenagers in those communities get unplanned pregnancies and abuse substances because they lack the right information about their sexual reproductive health.

Collaborating with Ishk Tolaram Foundation and Lagos Free Zone,  YEDI, and its technical partner, GrassrootSoccer implemented Skillz for health in the area to improve the health and well-being of adolescents and youths in those communities.

The seven benefiting communities include Itoke, Ilekuru, Oke-segun, MagbonSegun, Okunraye, Alasia and Idotun.

Speaking at a town hall meeting on the outcome of the assessment carried out in the area in June 2023, YEDI’s Executive Director, Adeoye Oluwatomisin, regretted that going by their assessment, the teenagers in those communities lack the right SRH information, adding that such knowledge gap predisposes them to risky behaviours.

She explained, “Some of the girls said they took a pack of Panadol just to do an abortion, they don’t know the implication of that on their health both now and in future.

“Even simple things like their menstruation, they don’t have the right information about it. Some of them will just see that blood is flowing because their parents either don’t have the right information or they are not even well equipped to engage the young people.

“You might even see the young people taking drugs, or abusing substances to get high.
“So we are here to give them the right information. We have a curriculum that is evidence-based and has been used for some time. It’s been developed by our technical partner. It has been used in over 120 countries.”

Oluwatomisin said YEDI will be using football and other physical activities to drive home the right  SRH messages to the youths.

“We are going to be using football to engage them so that they won’t be bored. They will learn even beyond the programme and they can always call us if they are facing further challenges.
“There are three cohorts, the first set will finish and there is now the evaluation. We also have second and third sets. We are reaching out to a minimum of 300 adolescents.

“We are going to have experts from NDLEA to talk about drug abuse and Mirabel centre to advise them because we have some of them being abused by their parents, brothers, uncles and neighbours,” the executive director stated.

Human Resources Manager at Lagos Free Zone, Ibeju Lekki, Beatrice Atipo, said they were supporting the initiative because the majority of the young girls get impregnated before their adolescent age.

Afipo said, “Over the years that we have been here, we have noticed that the majority of these young girls are being impregnated before the adolescent age.
The majority of them don’t go to school and they don’t know anything about sexual acts. So bringing this to them is to sensitise them to know more about it and how to abstain from what they are not supposed to do.

“Majority of them don’t know how to say no to sexual advances and over 80 percent of the girls here are getting pregnant.

“When children between 10 and 18 get pregnant their lifestyle will change, they won’t be able to go to school and if such an act is being eradicated from a community, it will be of benefit to Lagos Free Zone and the society at large.

“If they are not pregnant at that age, they will be able to further their education, be useful to themselves, to their parents and Lagos free zone and we can employ them to work in our company, that’s why we are doing this.”

A community member, Mr. Matthew Oluwaponmile commending the initiative added, “Out of 100 percent, only 30 percent know about their SRH.

“You will see a child of 16 and 17 already pregnant and some can not even account for who’s responsible for the pregnancy.”

Also, a traditional ruler in the community,  Jamuiyi Olalekan welcomed the initiative, saying, “The issue of drug abuse, and teenage pregnancy are very rampant in this community and I believe that 90 per cent of the cause is a parental failure. The parents do not know about sexual matters. And truly, it’s very rampant here in our area.”

SOURCE: PUNCH

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