What you need to know:
- Second Lady Dorcas Rigathi says alcohol and drugs have destroyed many young men who should be the bearers of the next generation.
- She said over 80 per cent of prisoners in Kenya are men as are 90 per cent of drug addicts, an indication the boy-child has been neglected.
Second Lady Dorcas Rigathi has said she will not rest until she saves the boy-child from drug and substance abuse.
Speaking on Thursday at Chuka University in Tharaka Nithi, she said alcohol and drugs have destroyed many young men who should be the "seed carriers" for the next generation.
She said over 80 per cent of prisoners in Kenya are men as are 90 per cent of drug addicts, an indication the boy-child has been neglected, with attention given to girls.
The Second Lady said that following her visits to towns and villages across the country, she has established that the majority of young people operating from drug dens are university students and graduates. She called for swift interventions.
She cautioned against condemning and despising addicts, saying they should be loved and rehabilitated. “Through my boy-child empowerment programme, we have already rehabilitated many young men who have gone back to university, resumed their work, and others left the streets and rejoined their families.”
Ms Rigathi said deaths due to drug addiction have seen many parents fall into depression. She blamed addiction on peer pressure, saying some students try out drugs in first year and slowly lapse into a pit where they cannot save themselves.
She appealed to university and college girls to save their brothers and boyfriends who take alcohol and drugs by sensitising them to the negative effects, not dumping them. “Your future husbands are suffering in prisons and in drug addiction. You have a responsibility to save them because they are the seed carriers for the next generation,” she said.
She said one of the challenges pushing young men into drug use is unemployment but stated that the government is doing everything possible to create opportunities.
The Second Lady noted that a lot of job opportunities exist online and her foundation will establish small digital hubs where youths can access the Internet.
She also asked university and college managements to support needy students by allowing them to have small farms on the institutions’ land where they can grow crops or establish seedling nurseries from which they can earn an income.
Ms Rigathi also blamed the increasing imprisonment of young men on poor parenting. During a tour of Chuka GK Prison Kathwana in Tharaka Nithi, she said parents, especially fathers, concentrate on their careers and other economic activities, thus neglecting their childrearing roles.
She urged parents to create enough time with their children and guide them appropriately. “As a mother, I am here to apologise on behalf of other parents for failing in our responsibilities.”
Ms Rigathi termed it saddening and a huge blow to parents and the country to see young men, who should be productive members of society, held in prison. She said consumption of illicit brew and use of drugs compound the suffering of many young men, some of whom find themselves committing crimes.
Ms Rigathi, however, lauded President William Ruto, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki for a spirited fight against illicit brew and drugs. “Some of you are here because of crimes you committed under the influence of drugs or liquor and my appeal is that you change and become good people.”
She added that many young people suffer in prison because they cannot pay fines, and. She urged the government to engage such inmates in activities like farming to help them earn money and pay up the fines. She encouraged the inmates to change and seek reconciliation with the people they offended even before the end of their imprisonment. She donated foodstuffs, tissue papers, soap and other personal effects.
Tharaka Nithi Woman Representative Susan Ngugi lauded Ms Rigathi for her concentration on empowering boys, noting that the government and nongovernmental organisations have concentrated on girls.
Ms Ngugi asked the government to consider establishing a women's prison in Tharaka Nithi, noting that women from the devolved unit are taken to correctional facilities in neighbouring counties, making it hard for their relatives to visit them. She added that negative effects of climate change make women suffer health problems, leading to deaths.
“We have two men’s prisons in this county and there is a need to have one for women so that their relatives can access them conveniently,” she said.
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