WHAT A GIRL THINKS ABOUT YOUNG PEOPLE
Grace Bella-Kamara is a final year Law Student of the University of Makeni (Unimak). She is believed to be a passionate about African Development and the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this interview with Fr. Louis Bira, sx, in view of the coming synod of bishops in October, she gives her opinion about the current situation of the youth and describes her experience as a female student of the Unimak.
Fr. Louis Bira sx (LB): In October, catholic Bishops with the Pope will meet in Rome. The topic of their meeting will be: “Young people, the Faith and Vocational Discernment”. According to you, what are the main challenges of the young people today?
Grace Bella Kamara (GBK): The present situation of the youth in any society projects the past and determines the future of that society. They are most capable to render 95% of service in all sectors in a society. But yet, in our society, standards in ensuring the empowerments of youth are not uphold. This leaves youth to battle with several challenges that limit the full maximization of their potentials, and can destroy these precious and agile lives. Drug abuse and addiction re-echoes the cry of several families and caring hearts concerning its adverse effect on youth; it leads to violence and mental impairments reducing creativity and initiative. Materialism and extravagancy: Deceptive means (robbery, prostitution, etc) are used to get the most recent devices, emulate negative attributes of people below morals. Unequal educational opportunities creates large gap between youth from rich and poor families. This dampens the hopes of breakthrough of the youth in poor families. Youth participation in national issues and empowerment is limited leading to same cycle of poverty. Unemployment is largely noticed as a major challenge for youth in developing countries of which mostly are found in Africa. The delay of retirement in offices causes a slow flow of recruitment and the only option left is entrepreneurship which many African youth have not grasped yet.
LB: As other young people, you are a “digital native”- a young who is familiar with the new means of communication and social media. What are the advantages and the risks of these new means of communication for young people?
GBK: The advantages of Technology of which social media is a part of, is evident in its success in making this world a global village where communication is done easily, at faster rate across the globe. This has help greatly in complementing the efforts of youth and research process is made simple as limitless knowledge is made available at just a click/tap of a device. However, its core risk to youth is that it exposes them to several negativities which succeed to water down their moral standards, addiction to social media sites which serves as time waster, goals become unaccomplished , misinformation leading to chaos, and connecting to negative pressure groups.
LB: You are a student in UNIMAK, a catholic university. Does the university help you to discern about your future life? Do you see any difference between Unimak and other universities in the country?
GBK: Unimak is believed to be an institution that is setting a unique mark in Sierra Leone. It relentless efforts exhibited to render standards in learning various courses and virtues cannot be over spoken of. It is a college that only encourages things that are geared towards academic excellence, patriotism and uprightness. Corruption, cultism and other mishaps are firmly discouraged. There is an atmosphere of love where lecturers spend extra time to counsel students on career path and render other parental assistance just to ensure that both the mind and hearts of students are determined to build a civilization of love.
I am privileged to go through a trustful institution like Unimak. It keeps me on maintaining exceptional standards through healthy competition and the urge to give back to my country whenever I have the opportunity to. There is however, the need to inculcate into the academic calendar of the university a specific program where students are oriented on their future and principles of success after completing course. This can be an impactful session that will build up the confidence of students as against the anxiety of life after the university.
LB: Sierra Leone is one of the countries in the world where teenage pregnancy is very high. How can the church or churches help the young students to live fairly and happily their sexuality?
GBK: The church has a responsibility of guiding the lives of youth and this starts right from childhood. Teaching children on the importance of living a godly life and the challenges they will face on attaining puberty and ways to overcome such challenges like premarital sex and its consequences should not cease. This put girls in a better position to avoid teenage pregnancy. Church leaders must monitor parents to ensure that girls are raised in the admonition of the Lord. It is unanimously noticed that one common reason for teenage pregnancy is prostitution to combat poor living conditions; therefore, the church providing both financial and/or other material support to girls will help them gain empowerment which will keep them from engaging in immorality leading to teenage pregnancy.