In attendance were several prominent citizens including a retired regional bank manager, a retired matron from the nursing services of the Ministry of Defense, a retired principal, a vice principal of a school, and several other professionals.
It is insightful to note that homosexuality is a major problem even in towns like Ughelli. One of the volunteers narrated how a young boy was raped by an older male in her uncompleted building in Ughelli. There was the case of fourteen girls locked up by a man who was raping them regularly until this volunteer intervened. The girls were set free, but nothing was done to the man because of Government sluggish bureaucracy. It was also suggested that we include primary schools in our reach.
One issue that cropped up was the issue of teenage pregnancies and premarital sex. I was shocked to see a young girl with sickle cell disease pregnant; I’m not sure she is more than 23 years old and she is supposed to be a student in a polytechnic. Her parents are poor; in fact, her mother was begging me for money to feed yesterday.
The issue of teenage pregnancies, single motherhood, and poverty featured very prominently. We also found out that our cultural values in the Niger Delta contribute to a large extent to the preponderance of teenage pregnancies and dysfunctional families. Issues of drug abuse among secondary school students also featured prominently. It is a very complex issue. Poverty, lack of recreational facilities, dysfunctional families, and peer pressure sequel to lack of hope and vision were fingered as contributory factors. However, the issues are more complex.
A representative from a University was there. There was a strong demand for us to urgently address these issues. We also resolved to work with churches and hold musical programs to attract the youths and then speak to them. I plan to hold several conferences this year targeted at our young people.
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God Bless You.