The Liberia Returnees Network Vocational Training Program (LRN/VTP) recently graduated 260 young women and men after nine months of intensive career development.
Working in partnership with the Reformed Cathedral of Hope located in Zubah Town, Paynesville, LRN has trained over 1,000 persons since the start of its vocational training program two years ago.
LRN is a group of Liberians who have returned home after years of asylum in nearby countries and beyond due to the civil wars in Liberia.
Most of the graduates, however, are people who did not travel outside the country during the civil conflict.
The guest speaker, Deputy Minister for Operations at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) Madam Gbeme Horace Kollie, called on the graduates to go out and inspire others to walk towards their dreams with diligence and hard work.
“I would like to commend the innovation and commitment of the founders of this vocational training institution, the LRN, that with just two years of existence has provided many compatriots with livelihood skills,” Madam Kollie said.
Speaking on the theme “Go and Inspire,” Madam Kollie said having a voice in a community is not about having degrees or knowing how to speak and write good English, but rather knowing how to apply what is learned to benefit others.
“Be proud of yourselves that you are counted among the many important voices in the country today. Your tailoring, catering, beauty culture skills, among others, that you have acquired are your ultimate power to contribute to change even if you don’t know how to read and write,” she said.
Madam Kollie noted that the returnees, while in exile in the sub-region and elsewhere, did not waste their lives but learned invaluable skills they can use to help in the rebuilding the country.
She said their certificates and beauty may fade away but if each of them helps somebody to learn something new, especially by resolving to also attend a vocational school and acquire a skill, then that would be the best inspiration.
“You don’t have to sit and wait for employment. Employ yourselves and if possible others who can also do something to help you in making a difference,” she admonished them.
For his part, the executive director of LRN, Mr. E. Tyrone Marshall, said the program’s purpose is not about profit making but providing opportunities to shape the destinies of fellow citizens who may think all is lost.
“Before coming back home, we already knew that unemployment could be among many of the challenges in our post conflict nation. Therefore, we came as professionals after acquiring these skills in Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and other African countries as well as in other parts of the world to help our fellow compatriots,” Mr. Marshall said.
He pointed out that since their return, reintegrating into their “own national society” has been a tough challenge but with their willingness to share, things have changed for the good.
He admonished the graduates to apply what they have learned and commended the head pastor of RCH, Rev. Wesseh Blamoh, for providing his organization the space and advice to empower women and men who lacked skills.