– On International Day of Peace
By T Mark Korpu
Today, September 21, the world promotes and celebrates the International Day of Peace on a day set aside a year ago at the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants around this time last year (September 19).
This day is intended to bring to mind the plight of millions of people around the world who are forced to flee their homes in search of a better life.
For some, the reason was famine, for others, war, some because of sexual, physical, religious and cultural orientation, yet others in search of better opportunities.
No matter their reasons, millions of these people we call refugees, risk life and limb to leave their places of origin destined for our shores.
Unfortunately, refugees are sometimes blamed for everything bad by host communities in times of difficulty.
For us in Liberia, the word ‘refugee’ should be very familiar to us. Not too long ago we suffered the indignity of having to flee our homes, leaving behind our treasured possessions and memories to seek refuge in neighboring countries and afar.
We all know our experiences walking, braving the elements and conditions of the warring years to get to a place of safety.
More than anybody else, we know about the psychological need for respect, safety and dignity we expected from our host communities.
Back then news of our plight was slow to reach the international community.
Today, with the advent of social media, we are all aware of the conditions of people in Syria, Mali, Nigeria, DRC, South Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Texas, Florida, the Caribbean, Cameroon, Chad, Myanmar, and all from elsewhere around the world, right when they are taking place.
We know of the present migrant crisis and the untold sufferings people go through to get across from North Africa to Europe.
We have seen and heard of many deaths, and the reception some of these refugees get when they arrive.
Closer to home, we see the Malian and other people from the region on the streets of Monrovia begging for their keep, sometimes using their children to do the begging.
Today, I, T Mark Korpu, Vice President of Students with a Goal – SWAG District, am calling on my fellow Liberians, but especially the youth, to show support for refugees and migrants in honor of the spirit of TOGETHER, a global initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes in search of a better life.
As young people, we are living in a time when access to news is at our fingertips. We know the conditions of countries near and far.
Let us do all we can to be cognizant of the refugees among us and do all we can to ensure that they are cared for and made to feel right at home among us.
SWAG District is calling on our elders to make our communities open to migrants, not just in solidarity with their condition, but also in remembrance of the thousands of our people who found themselves in foreign countries fleeing the wars in Liberia.
We call on civil society organizations and the international community in a global partnership in support of diversity, non-discrimination and acceptance of refugees and migrants.
SWAG, or Students with a Goal, District is a youth based NGO that promotes, advocates and is affiliated with other groups for youth empowerment.
The organization helps to find and provide opportunities for youth to be active partners in nation building through programs and projects that will develop their abilities and enable them to become more serviceable to the nation.
We help identify scholarship opportunities for the less fortunate to enhance their skills and abilities. The organization is also into artist management, events planning, hosting and promotion, education programs and the like.
We wish our fellow Liberians and all those residing in Liberia, the international community, and more especially the refugees and migrants among us, a happy International Day of Peace.
Let us live at peace with each other every day and consider the respect, safety and dignity of all.