Introducing: Messengers of Peace-Liberia

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Author Gwendolyn Myers.jpg

Peace is not only defined as the absence of war, violence, or conflict but the presence of growth and stability where people can live in harmony. It is on this premise that the Messengers of Peace-Liberia was founded on 17 September 2008.

One of the lessons learned from the tragic events in Liberia was that we needed to be better postured, through appropriate peace messages and call for non violence, in order to respond to past or developing crisis situations. According to Martin Luther King, “Violence is the language of the unheard.” The silent whisper of peace is louder than the sound of any gun.

Ever since the French sociologist Emile Durkheim, introduced the concept of anomie in 1893, social scientists and their knockoffs, columnists, have been writing about the atomized society.

 The anomie concept is a condition of deregulation that was occurring in society. This meant that rules on how people ought to behave with each other were broken down and thus people did not know what to expect from one another.

This column intends to speak about the benefits of a unified society and the unifying factors exhibited in our culture and values as human beings.

In choosing interventions to support peace education and violence prevention and reduction programs in Liberia, Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia, a youth based organization with emphasis on peace through volunteerism, has been selective in its approach and methodology. Our intervention programmes have emphasized awareness and sensitization programs for peace, encouraged peace education in schools and fostering partnerships between government and civil societies, national and international agencies in the areas of volunteerism, education and development.

Over the past two years, MOP-Liberia has undertaken important initiatives such as the 21 days of Peace Activism, establishment of peace clubs in various schools and communities (at the moment we have 18 to 20 functional peace clubs in schools), coaching and mentoring programs for young adolescent girls and we have taken advantage of potential synergies in the commemoration of International Peace days in Liberia.

Messengers of Peace (MOP) – Liberia has taken the lead in organizing, coordinating and implementing special days for peace. We have competed at international levels/programmes and have organized seminars, symposium and panel discussions with various stakeholders on peace intervention strategies. The lead offers MOP-Liberia a practical vehicle for increased collaboration with other stakeholders in Liberia and within the West African Region.

MOP-Liberia Peace Education, violence prevention, volunteerism and reduction programmes, besides building on the Carter Center Liberia & Liberia Peace Building Office (PBO)’s unique comparative advantages of funding and legitimacy, works with other sectors related to education, youth and sports, communication and tourism. We have commenced activities to explore collaboration with corporate entities to advance strong links between companies and their communities to enhance peaceful dialogue and collaboration to promote their communities.

MOP-Liberia is well poised to design peace education and violence reduction projects with interventions in multiple sectors. MOP plays a key role in supporting the integration of peace and development interventions on the ground. At this point, it is important to mention that major challenges in terms of mobilization of resources (Human, Material and Financial) still lingers. MOP- Liberia is unable to finance its long-term prevention activities that require un-front investments, which deliver longer term payoffs.

The overall goal of our intervention programmes is to work closely with young people and develop tailor projects that respond to local prevailing conditions; since the types of violence and the factors responsible for violence can vary significantly among counties and various interest groups.

The intervention programs carried out by MOP-Liberia are novel and experimental in design and implementation. Our current plan is to develop an in-house capacity to conduct research on violence among young people in Liberia.

Part of the intervention plan is to conduct a simple research on peace education and violence in 10 schools in and around Monrovia-Liberia. It is anticipated that the gathered pieces of evidence would guide discourse on policy, curriculum development for all schools and programme design on peace education and violence reduction in Liberia.

In conclusion, MOP-Liberia has iron grip in peacebuilding and peace education for youth specifically and the communities in general. We are developing our institutional capacity to respond to the involvement and participation of young people in Peace Education, volunteerism and violence reduction programmes.

At the same time, we are cognizant of the need to strengthen and expand this capacity to other institutions by offering on-going training to our volunteers from the various peace clubs in the design, oversight and evaluation of violence prevention, volunteerism and reduction projects in Liberia.

Peace, above all. May Peace Prevail!

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