By Kefa Senoga
In Katega village, Mukono district, one Ssemujju Balackan mobilized a group of young girls and boys to engage in sports activities such as football and netball during the COVID 19 lockdown.
This kept these young people occupied during their free time, thus keeping them away from unsuitable habits like drug abuse that could be brought on by idleness. This therefore saved these young ones from going down with the lockdown.
Many of the girls in this area testify that if it wasn’t for their engagement in netball, perhaps they would have been impregnated like some of their colleagues. Nantongo Monica testifies that as they went for sports, some of their friends stayed behind with the men who were misleading them, and eventually some of them were impregnated.
The boys who participated in the games reveal that with the kind of routine they had for the sports activities they had, they could hardly find the time for drinking alcohol and smoking weed.
One of the young soccer players, Bashir Kabode, says his routine was so tight as he had to finish up with all the domestic work at home before 4 p.m. so that he could have time for soccer training in the evenings.
With a high number of bars found in this village, the youth had many options for the spots where they would purchase their alcohol, most especially the cheap waragi, locally known as “kasese.”
“Some young men used to come and buy alcohol as early as 7 a.m. in the morning during the lockdown, but I did not see any of those boys that were engaged in Balackan’s sports come here to purchase alcohol; they were always engaged in their soccer, and I was also a fan of their games, and I often watched them play in the evenings,” said Yusuf Sekweyama, a village bar owner.
After schools were reopened after the lockdown, one of the challenges that hit the education sector was the low turnout of students, especially in rural schools.
Among the causes of the low turnout among students were the high rate of pregnancies among the girls and alcoholism and gambling among the boys, which agitated their academic journey.
However, after the schools reopened, there were numerous complaints from parents about the increased school fees.On the other hand, many parents also breathed a sigh of relief after sending their children back to school. This is because they had a more difficult time keeping their children away from inappropriate vices.When the children returned to school, many parents believed that their children were now out of danger.
Najja Christine, a resident of Mukono, says she was worried about her daughter, who was joining university. “After seeing more than two of her former classmates with baby bumps, I never stopped worrying about my dear girl. I was so happy when she joined the sports activities because I knew they would occupy her in her free time,” Najja said. She insists that idleness persuaded the youth to fall for imprudent actions like alcoholism, drug abuse, and pregnancies.