Ummi and Wan

To help youth aged 13 to 24 years to go through their adolescene with confidence and ease, the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) has set up Kafe@TEEN in several states throughout the country, hoping that it can be an interactive centre for teen education.

Helping teens cope with adolescence

As a one-stop centre for teenagers, the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) sees Kafe@TEEN as being able to guide teenagers to become better individuals and curb social problems.

In Sarawak, the only Kafe@TEEN centre is located in Kompleks Penyayang, Sri Aman, which was established in 2015.

Dayang Ummi Nurkhairunnisa Abang Zamahari

According to one of the mentors, Dayang Ummi Nurkhairunnisa Abang Zamahari, Kafe@TEEN has its own module that help educates teenagers to avoid them from getting involved in social problems.

“Teenagers can do various activities here, and that includes doing their homework where they can be monitored by mentors that will provide them guidance.

“In addition, we also provide workshops and seminars, counselling, guidance on reproductive health and sexuality, friends’ clubs, mini library, indoor games, volunteering programmes and recreational activities.

“As a mentor, I would say that Kafe@TEEN has been a big help in reducing the teenagers involvement in issues related to drug abuse, underage pregnancy, sexuality, smoking, skin problem, weight management as well as mental health.

A shirt signed by Rohani when inaugurating the centre

“Mentors are always available at the centre to help and convey any relevant information to teenagers here,” she said.

The centre are also meant as a safe place for teens to spend their time after school and before their parents pick them up – something necessitated by increasingly busy families with two working parents.

Open for free

In addition to helping teens cope with adolescence, Kafe@TEEN also provides counselling and health services, giving youths the opportunity to meet new friends, share experiences and new ideas as well as empowering them through guidance and education.

“The centre is open daily from 8am to 5pm including school holidays, without any entry charges. However, currently only five teenagers are allowed to enter at one time due to the conditional movement control order (CMCO).

“We want to ensure that every teenager is able to go through their adolescent years comfortably and confidently. Therefore, for those who live in Sri Aman and the surrounding areas, please make use of this opportunity.

“Those who registers with us will be given access to all facilities available here,” she said, adding that before the MCO came into force, about 100 to 200 teenagers visited the centre every month.

Further elaborating, Ummi said that although admission is currently limited, teenagers can still interact through the Kafe@TEEN app, which can be downloaded in their smartphones.

Dealing with rebellious teens

Meanwhile, another mentor Andressen Wan Schmit Yein said the task of being a mentor is not easy as they have to deal with different types of teenagers daily.

“It is a great challenge for us. The most important thing is we have to be patient in communicating with them to make sure that they can be guided to the right path, and become better individuals.

“One of the methods that we practice is to be gentle but firm. We should avoid being harsh or raise our voices, as this can be seen as provoking. You already know that they are rebellious, you can’t fight fire with fire.

“So far, we can still manage most of them. However, for cases that cannot be resolved, we will refer to special officers from the headquarters or relevant parties,” he said.

At the same time, Wan also hopes that Sri Aman’s Kafe@TEEN will be upgraded in the future, such as the one in Penang, which is very well equipped with various facilities.

“Teenagers who visited our centre often suggested the same thing and hope that more facilities will be available here,” she added.

Kafe@TEEN Sarawak was officiated in 2015 by Batang Lupar’s member of parliament, Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim, who was also the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development then.