In the wake of the horrific incident in Nice, France where there was a spectacular attack on innocent civilians with significant fatality on vulnerable and the attempted Coup d’état of July 15 in Turkey where over 50, 000 persons have been arrested and almost two hundred killed following a post-putsch purge.
The world, more than ever before is reminded of the need for peace. There could be no better time in our history for peace advocates and the mantle of engagement falls squarely on the shoulders of young people.
Much have been said about the involvement of young people in violent extremism and the recent stabbing at the train station in German by a 17 year old Afghanistan refugee is a clear reminder of the need to engage young people in peace vocation.
It is for these reasons and more that the Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia chose to organize the first Peace Summer Camp for young people ages 8-18 years in Monrovia, Liberia. The purpose of the camp is to instruct, educate and prepare youth not to keep the old path that others, before them, have trod.
The Peace Summer Camp designed for one month for over fifty young people would give instructions in understanding conflict and dealing with it and the implementation of UNSCR # 2250. Young people would be engaged in learning new and different skills, attitudes and knowledge. It is anticipated that they would acquire Language skills in French and Spanish. According to a young camper, “this is the camp that brings young people from different schools and communities together”
Guest lecturers would be invited to speak on topics of interest ranging from: The Company you keep, how to select good friends, teambuilding and leadership, integrity and accountability. There would be board games, sports, quiz on Liberian expressions, and excursions. The Peace Camp would be a place for young people to dialogue in order to achieve peace. Young people must be included in all peace building exercise.
Last Tuesday, the second day of Camp, fifty youths and five Camp Managers met with the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General-Waldemar Vrey on the involvement of young people in peacekeeping. The Video Tele Conference (VTC) was not only interactive, it was inspiring.
As we conduct the first Peace Summer Camp in Liberia, it is our position as Messengers of Peace, that Peace should be our inheritance not our cross. A national movement for peace makes it harder for the minds of young people to be molded for violent extremism.
There must be a dramatic shift in violent extremism behavior. We need to inspire friendship among young people and at the end of the camp, one camper becomes a peace advocate, another victory would have been earned. Peace should not have to be bought. Peace should have its own reward.
We are reminded daily that “The fear of the Lord-that is wisdom, and to shun evil is-understanding”-Job- The path out of violence is respect for and tolerance to each other. Until next week when we continue with our dialogue and report on our Peace Summer Camp-Part 2, it’s peace first, peace above all else. May Peace Prevail in our time!