Project #BeFree intends to give young people a re-imagined sense of belonging and will become an effective youth empowerment programme that will address matters that are of utmost importance to Namibian youth.
The initiative was recently launched under the One Economy Foundation and will see the establishment of a N$30 million youth friendly centre that will be donated to the youth and sports ministry at a later stage.
The centre will be situated at the Katutura Multipurpose Youth Centre, with the construction expected to start in July this year.
Head of Programmes at the One Economy Foundation Steven Bernardus Harageib said the project aspires to provide a safe space where young people and their parents can access professional services and seek guidance on complex social issues, which otherwise are often left unaddressed and may escalate into conflict or dysfunction.
The centre, among others, will consist of Edutainment, after school, wellness, skills innovation, training hubs, including a #BreakFree Anti-Violence Centre, and a Sexual Health and Awareness Programme (SHAP).
He added that the Adolescent Clinic, SHAP, a youth-friendly clinic will revolutionise health care services for adolescents and young adults by creating a safe and dynamic space that is judgment free and maintains a high level of confidentiality.
Harageib stated this landmark project will commence with the adolescent clinic. The project seeks to trailblaze and provide unique health services that cater not only for physical needs but also psychosocial needs. Health care facilities are critical to respond to and prevent adolescent health challenges in promoting sexual and reproductive health and in inculcating help-seeking behaviour.
“A centre with all services under one roof, such as Project #BeFree, enhances help-seeking behaviour and elevate investments in youth development. We are elated to be engaging with you to drive the youth development agenda in Namibia and on the African continent forward,” stated Harageib.
He said: “This health centre seeks to break the stigma around help-seeking by providing a full spectrum of sexual reproductive health services for adolescents; the health care practitioners and service providers are trained on how to engage, relate and communicate with young people in a non-judgmental and age-appropriate manner. Structurally, the health hub will have a youthful appeal.”
Youth and sports minister Agnes Tjongarero stated that government has taken decisive action through several policies and programme initiatives to strengthen the provision of relevant services and ensure improved social outcomes for young people.
With the government well aware of these youth-related issues, Tjangarero added that the line ministry recognises the importance of establishing relevant, responsive and effective programmes that cater to the specific needs of adolescents and young adults, and that they are aware of the increasing youth population in the country, which has resulted in high demands for youth-related services.
“There are underlying issues that continue to preserve inequality, poverty and crime among young people; insufficient access to quality and responsive programming supplementing the formal platforms remain a challenge – like physical education, after school support and access to adolescent-friendly healthcare,” she pointed out.
Tjongarero added that young people remain disconnected from social protection systems such as family, school, community and good friends, which put them at risks, as there is minimal supervision.
“As the Katutura Multi-Purpose Youth Centre has provided a safe space for young people and community members around the area to thrive, we are excited to see these services extended through Project #BeFree. We understand that youth are connected to their communities in more authentic and unhindered ways than adults. This can help communities be better understood,” stated Tjongarero.