Several disadvantaged youth drawn from six communities in Monrovia, including Caldwell, King Gray, Duport Road, New Georgia, Gobachop and Clara Town Communities have said they believe they can become productive citizens in Liberia.
The youth made the disclosure over the weekend during a media engagement in the six communities as part of the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) and partners project to empower disadvantaged youth with entrepreneur skills
Speaking to the media, Pico Sankalay a resident of Abuja Community in Clara Town commended the ABIC and partners for its gesture toward the disadvantaged youth, stating that they have been despised by their families and the communities.
He told the media that people have considered them not to be important to the society but indicated that ABIC has come back to give them hope and make them believe they are part of the society to the extent that they have given them anti-covid-19 materials and a hand washing station aimed at keeping them safe.
Sankalay indicated with the help of ABIC their disadvantaged Liberian brothers and sisters are being encouraged to follow Covid-19 protocols.
“I have been down hearted for a very long time because I never had hope of coming out of anywhere but as long [as]ABIC has come to help me I believe that I can become somebody and can be part of the society and contribute to my community and Liberia at large,” he said.
He emphasized that he can become productive if he is elevated from his current condition and given the necessary entrepreneurial skills in order to have a better status and contribute immensely to other Liberians.
He used the occasion to call on the Government of Liberia and international partners to come to their rescue, because according to him, if ABIC had not come to their aid they would have remained in the slums and ghettos.
Sankalay further called on government and partners to build a rehabilitation center and take them off the streets, ghettos, and that they will be afforded the opportunity to get treatment and acquire education and basic skills that would enable them lead better lives and make meaningful contributions to society.”
“I believe by training us and giving us something to live on we will be productive and be able to help our brothers and sisters out tomorrow. We are prepared to leave the street because ABIC has given me hope that I should look up to them and I know by doing that I will leave this life and become great tomorrow,” he said.
A 42-year-old woman and a mother of two, Patricia M. Weah, who lives in a ghetto in Caldwell, told the media that she is willing to leave drugs and live a normal life but stated that she has nobody to encourage and help her out.
Patricia said she wants to leave the ghettos and with the help of God, ABIC has surfaced and they are trying to encourage she and others, as well as giving them hope that they can become better citizens in the society.
“I want to tell ABIC thank you but I want them to find place where they will take us and treat us so that we can leave this drugs because for me once I am still outside I will not leave it because the moment I see my friend I will want to go back in the ghetto but if I am somewhere for like three months where I will not see drug and the people that using it, I will not think about it,” she said.
According to her, when she was not using drug people had high respect for her but since she got into that habit for 12 years now all her family members and friends no longer regard her to the extent that when she even sees them in the street, she have to hide from them.
“People who never used to insult me can look at me now and tell me anything, I was big woman before but look at me now,” she lamented.
Meanwhile, the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) in partnership with the Global Initiative Resilience Fund has piloted an entrepreneurial project in 5 counties for 250 gang youths between August to November. The project firstly links youth from selected slums and ghettos with entrepreneurship which creates role needs for other gang members within their communities.
According to ABIC the youth in slums and ghettos in Liberia form the largest portion of the population with more than 50% rarely having job to do.
This situation is commonly traced to the destructive 14 years civil war that brought the country unto its knees. This accounts for the several networks of organized crimes and gang violence which unfortunately transcend these youth groups to include state actors who instead of creating economic opportunities for the youth, act with impunity by recruiting, sponsoring and utilizing disenfranchised youth in criminal activities to win political power.
ABIC further noted that youth in slums face not only a lack of basic services, little or no education and employable skills but additionally have to deal with the issue of creating economic opportunities, noting that such population is crucial for the peace and security of the country.
The project also includes the donation of hand washing stations and anti-Covid-19 materials, youth-peer-to-peer peace process in six communities, meet the press conversation with disadvantaged youth, urban peace dialogue, training in entrepreneurship, soccer for peace event, certification, pitch festival and award of seed funding.
Meanwhile, the ABIC in partnership with the Global Initiative Resilience Fund have piloted an entrepreneurial project in 5 counties for 250 gang youths between August to November. The project firstly links youth from selected slums and ghettos with entrepreneurship which creates role needs for other gang members within their communities.
As part of the project, the ABIC over the weekend hosted a Urban Peace Dialogue with 250 disadvantaged youth from six communities, including King Gray, Caldwell, Duport Road, Gobachop Field, New Georgia and Clara Town Communities. The weekend’s event was geared towards strengthening youth resilience to organized-crime and gang violence held at the Paynesville City Hall in Paynesville.
Giving the overview of the project at the peace dialogue, the Project Coordinator of ABIC, Gifty Mensah disclosed that her organization aims to understand the similarities of issues affecting disadvantaged youth in their various communities.
Madam Mensah said that they ABIC intends to empower disadvantaged youth with entrepreneur skills as a way of empowering them through mentorship to develop their ideas into business plan that will then be organized into Liberia’s first ‘Slum Pitch Festival’ in May of this year.
In a special statement, the Establishment Coordinator of ABIC, Cllr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh expressed excitement for seeing the youth, stating that the disadvantaged youth are one of her dreams.
Cllr. Wureh told the youth that they should remember that the love their mothers give them and the way she looks at them and the thoughts that went through their mothers’ heads is the same thought that is in every mother head for their children, emphasizing that they want the best for them and they want aspiration and want their children to succeed no matter what the situation is, and no matter what the challenges are.
She told the youth there is something that within each of them which needs to come out and make them to be part of society, stressing that the realization of this is one of her dreams for which ABIC launching such project.
“This is not about money but it is about you. It’s about us seeing what is in you come out because when you come out and you are successful you are exemplifying it to the highest level. You can do it, we can do it and you will do it, I don’t care of what people will say so that is why we are tapping into you,” Cllr. Wureh said.
Leila B. Gbati writes