Walking Ghetto's streets for a worthy cause With drug use amongst the nation’s youth a reoccurring problem, Francistowners took to the city’s streets on Saturday morning to raise awareness of the scourge. Organised by ‘Drug Free is The New Cool’, a non-profit organisation hell-bent on highlighting the devil that is illegal drugs, around 60 walkers defied the wet weather to get their message heard. Setting off from Galo mall, the 10km route covered Minestone, Area L, Donga and China Town before twisting back to where it started. On the day, members of the public could also be screened for sugar diabetes and have their blood pressure taken. There was also an ‘alcohol audit’, where individuals were asked questions on their drinking habits. Evaluated by a professional in the field of substance abuse, their answers added up to points, which determined whether their drinking was deemed risky or not. A similar detection tool was used for drugs. WALKING FOR CHANGE: Sengawane Speaking to The Voice, the brains behind the event, Tumelo Sengawane revealed this was the fifth walk put together by his organisation following similar initiatives in Maun, Molepolole and Gaborone, where they have walked twice. “Our mission is to educate, rehabilitate and instill knowledge about drugs and its negative impact on society. We help identify members of the community who need help with drugs and put them in touch with the relevant authoritative to assist them,” explained Sengawane, 34. The ‘Drug Free is the New Cool’ founder knows exactly how hard it is to kick the habit, having been a drug-user himself in his youth. “I started taking alcohol when I was about 13 years old. Under the influence, I would do things without thinking and sometimes find myself laughing randomly for no reason,” he recalled. By the time he was in university, Sengwane was drinking heavily and would regularly smoke marijuana. It proved a gateway to harder drugs, and by 2013 he was taking coke and CAT. “I got into a fight at a club while high and drunk. The fight ended badly as I extremely injured someone. It is something I am not proud of; if given an opportunity of turning things back I would just walk away from the fight and not say a word to anyone,” continued Sengwane, who was found guilty of grievous bodily harm and jailed for 14 months over the incident. Upon his release, the reformed convict left prison a changed man, making it his mission to help others. He registered his organisation in 2017 and has not looked back since. “We have been doing a lot of outreach programs for schools and community,” added Sengwane. MAKING HIS POINT: Lesego Kwambala Meanwhile, the Guest Walker, Francistown Deputy Mayor, Lesego Kwambala commended the NGO for bringing their worthy campaign to Ghetto. Kwambala warned that drugs were responsible for ruining many young lives, and did not discriminate between rich or poor. “Even those who were intelligent at school have been badly derailed by taking drugs,” said the Itekeng ward Councillor. “Some drugs are expensive and force the addict to engage in illegal activities to meet their fix. Some people are now in jails because of drugs. I urge people, more especially youth to stay away from drugs to better their lives,” concluded a slightly out of breath Kwambala.