Last week at J.J Roberts High School, MOP-Liberia presented the sum of L$10,000 to 19-year old Ingel Sabrina Clay, an alumna of JJ Roberts, and presently an undergraduate student of the Stella Maris Polytechnic.
The event, graced by the Liberian Daily Observer, the Liberia Peacebuilding Office, Accountability Lab, J.J Roberts students, Muslim Congress High School, B.W. Harris Episcopal High, was a stark reminder of the need to develop the minds of young people.
Judging from the brief remarks at the event, we established that the writing skills of young people, especially young women, have been unleashed. We recognized there is almost no limit to what young people can do, but our awareness to our potentials is not only constrained by time and attention, but by support as well as the encouragement of others. We also recognized how great programs do not necessarily incur great cost; it was an occasion of doing more with little.
The event anchored by two of our Volunteer Peace Messengers, Olivia Livingstone and Nusone Perkins, was peace in action as the two young ladies never had it so good. Ingel, our prize winner, spoke about inner peace and the need for peace of mind or serenity, a peaceful nature and what resonated most with many, the statement that sustainable national peace begins with sustainable peace in and among young people.
We take this opportunity to call on all young people to join the community of writers for peace. Every month, Messengers of Peace-Liberia Inc (MOP) and the Liberian Daily Observer will publish winning articles, and a cash prize of L$10,000 would be given to each article published in the MOP column.
If the current trend of events and focus on sustainable peace and security in Liberia is anything to go by, then the time is ripe to have an all-inclusive peace engagement with young people. Our perspective on peace is hinged on the need for cooperation and collaboration as well as supporting the frontline volunteer messengers through funding.
Over saturating traditional partners with program funds and not trusting new partners with funds because of their limited capacity to absorb funds is anti-peace and anti-development. If you only scratch any youth based organization, you will find lack of funding support either from government or international non-governmental organizations.
Ongoing dialogue on this issue shows limited funds are not sustainable and criteria set for accessing program funds cannot be met by youth based organizations who need capacity building programs, trust and oversight to remain viable.
As the country prepares for the next presidential and parliamentary elections, we need to dig deep into our pouches for programs that promote peace among young people; that supports youth based organizations involved in peace and security matters; and, most importantly, we need to develop programs for youth as equal partners and that are solely driven by young people.
Until next week, when we come to you with another article on Political Peace (Part 2), it is peace above all else, peace first, may peace prevail in our time.