Sunday, December 5, 2021

#My360Free campaign making an impact on Batswana

The hashtag (#) is probably the biggest trend on social media used to highlight and put emphasis on a statement being made, hence the #My360Free anti substance abuse campaign highlighting the importance of this ambiguous message being conveyed. A 360 degree turn is a full circle and there are roughly 360 days in a year.
Men and Boys for Gender Equality Director Desmond Lunga took that bold step by starting the #My360free when he decided to take a year long trial of staying away from the bottle. In doing so, he recruited 10 people from different industries to join him on this journey of sobriety and in spreading the word that it is cool to be sober.
#My360free is an anti intoxicating substance abuse challenge created to spread awareness on the effects and dangers of taking intoxicating substances, primarily alcohol. The 10 people chosen to take part are media personalities who will hopefully use this to positively influence the youth who are probably the hardest hit by alcohol and substance abuse across the country. It is a personal challenge to all those taking part since they are challenging themselves to an alternate lifestyle and will hopefully yield positive results from all this. The objective of this challenge is to positively influence behavioural change. This challenge will be documented and will be aired on television to show how the contestants went about swapping a beer bottle for a juice bottle.
Alcohol on its own is detrimental to one’s health and it is also very addictive. When approached to take part in this challenge, most personalities could not fathom the idea of going a whole year without indulging in the unholy waters.
In the past two months it has been established by the team that alcohol abuse in the past used to compromise time management, health and relationships across the border. “We were so used to finding excuses to justify drinking copious amounts of alcohol by saying it was a primary form of entertainment,” stated Lunga, also citing an example that Batswana were astonished at the alcohol ban at the national stadium. “I personally have lost a lot of weight, have a better relationship with my wife and children and I am loving being sober,” Lunga added.
Although all the contestants are based in Gaborone the campaign will be rolled out to all Batswana in the form of road shows spreading messages of road safety, living positively and finding new ways of killing time without drinking. The team will go to places as far as Bobonong, Shoshong, Maun Sefophe and Masunga, amongst many, to spread the gospel of sobriety.
Lunga also stated that the past two months have not been easy and have come with their challenges. Most participants had confided that they are not having a proper support system in place and scepticism from society was not helping in anyway. Naysayers bombarded them with negativity and preached impending failure in the challenge to anyone who will listen. “It is an entirely personal challenge where each participant will be challenging themselves to emerge a better person and my wish is to see the group infiltrating schools and other youth groups and inviting them to set up similar challenges in their communities,” said Lunga.
Actress and Producer, Loretta Mekgwe who is also part of the challenged expressed that the first couple of weeks were the toughest citing that mood swings and insomnia were the order of the day. As the days and weeks progressed it got better, “I am working much better, spending more time with my family and I have a lot of ‘me time’ when I can focus more on my health and other aspects of my life I have been neglecting in the past few years.” Mekgwe further stated that at the end of the challenge she hopes to be able to make better decisions regarding the intake of alcohol.
For Hip Hop super start Thato Scar Matlhabaphiri it has been harder as he recently suffered a drastic setback and in his own words, “I got tempted to have a drink at a show I was doing because I had spent about 7 hours on the road and while waiting in the VIP lounge I was having a lot of convenience conversations. It’s usually what we do at shows. Casual but not really deep conversation with people you don’t know. I was tired and I drank so that i didn’t look disinterested. I performed and went straight back to the hotel to sulk and sleep. I felt defeated because it had been 42 days!!”
Lunga explained that this is a real life hard challenge and relapses like this were expected, “Each participant is allowed three strikes before being formally disqualified from the challenge,” he further stated that they have also engaged a psychologist to help them through this process.
The consumption of alcohol is probably the most socially accepted use and abuse of drugs across the entire world, it is made out to be a glamorous flamboyant habit and is basically the life of most celebrations whether good, bad or neither.
An average Motswana in urban areas and their peripheries will boast that they drink when there are certain special occasions yet somehow always trying to make an occasion out of something in order to drink.

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