Each passing day is flooded with messages of distress, the sudden demise of a loved one, neighbor to work colleagues and even our leaders. COVID 19 pandemic has left footprints everywhere.

Tensions are rising, people are panicking because those they once depended on no longer come to their aid. Likewise, the pandemic is creating both economic and social
gaps in the society as each day, we are losing all various types of community cadres including bread winners, young, old, rich, poor and prominent people. With the current situation, it is hard to have a stable state of mind. How does one come to terms with death?

Emotionally, people are drained and this limits positive thinking. As a result, it leads to failure to make constructive decisions as hurt takes centre stage. As we are looking after ourselves and following all precautionary measures to prevent contracting the Corona virus, let us take care of our mental health as well, because this is equally important. It is never easy to come to terms with the loss of those we once shared memories with. We all wish to never lose anything that is dear to our hearts. Death is not something one can get used to. When found in this situation, people react differently. There come issues of denial, uncertainty, mixed feel that is why we need to be there for one another. Let’s normalize checking on our friends frequently so that they may not feel alone. We are in this together, and we will fight this to the end.

Please seek counselling as one of the steps of dealing with grief through your church leaders or other people whom you can easily open up to. Further to this, Tithandizane National Helpline Services is just a phone call away for your psychosocial support and counselling. Please call these toll-free numbers; 116, 5600 and 6600 and you will be rendered the support you need.

Schools have closed for the second time as a measure to control the spread of the pandemic, let’s not encounter another pandemic of unintended pregnancies during this second wave. A special plea to the youth; please verify information on Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) by visiting your nearest Youth Friendly Health Service (YFHS) delivery point or alternatively call our toll-free numbers. You can also access the same on www. Letschill.yoneco.org. As parents, let us not relax, make sure that you are frequently engaging with your young ones so that their minds do not stray and stay idle but continue studying and doing extracurricular activities.

The month of February, has two critical world events to pay attention to: Valentine’s Day and CSocD59 – Whatever that animal is.

Valentine’s Day is here again on 14th February. Encourage young people to show love by ensuring that they protect the people around them, parents and siblings from COVID-19. As they celebrate the Valentine’s Day, they should mask up, wash hands, sanitize and observe social distance. COVID-19 is real. Always have your mask on, do not trust your neighbor with your life. Protect yourself and your loved ones.

In New York, the 59th session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD59) convenes from 8 – 17 February 2021 and virtually worldwide under the theme “Socially just transition towards sustainable development: The role of digital technologies on social development and well-being for all”. The commission among other things received a report from the Secretary General of the United Nations with focus on youth poverty alleviation, the digital global economy, the youth and the law.

YONECO is anxious to see the adoption of the report with the recommendations made but is the world still talking about poverty alleviation? Whatever that means, most Malawian youths are living below the poverty line and its high time the government and all stakeholders put in place interventions that deal with youth poverty and social exclusion. However, it’s also important that young people should strive to develop the necessary capacity and skills to enhance inclusions. We have a World Action Plan for 2030 and we need to continuously reflect and relate to it.

While CSocD59 has focused on the role of digital technology, we seem to be challenged when digital technology is concerned. We are seeing fewer young people having access to technology in schools, less innovations in universities and colleges and limited platforms for youth engagement in Malawi. This is quite challenging. We also see higher costs of internet and telecommunications facilities, more abuse of ICT platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook where the majority of discussions are not very necessary to development. Young people spend time sharing fake stories and not using the available technology to advance skills, share critical information, and host trainings to sharpen their skills.

There is need for support systems to advance use of technology while helping people that technology is not only ICT. Young people can advance technology in processing agro products, develop technology for irrigation and technology to produce biogas for cooking and lighting. Young people should wake up while adults should support innovations.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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