When your modest peace intervention programme gives rise to potential peace advocates, know that you have made a mark. This week concludes our month long peace summer camp. The one month peace summer camp has taught us many things. It has taught us humility, hard work, passion and commitment. More importantly, we have come to recognize that young people thrives in an open environment of willing participants all action in good faith and governed by clear rules of engagement. A child or youth friendly environment is where every serious and peace loving group should aspire to establish.
We must admit, it has been an exhausting but exciting month and the challenges of inculcating peace advocacy to young people as we implement UNSCR # 2250 are not new but at the same time, they cannot be ignored.
Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia is of the opinion that all principal stakeholders for the growth and development of young people, should take tangible measures to constantly engage and involve young people. We realize that rapid technological change is not reaching young people and very few young people benefit from free child friendly environment.
Our youth policies should be one that would enable young people to pursue new educational as well as vocational opportunities. We noticed during the camp that many young people are gifted in oratory-public speaking, some in languages (French and Spanish) and others in physical activities such as dance and sports. The impromptu debate on ‘Sometimes violence is needed to bring peace-do you agree with this’ generated heated but constructive arguments to which our walk in guests from Accountability Lab commended.
This week, our happy campers have been more out of the camp than in the camp. We have been conducting excursions outside the camp and outside Monrovia. The team building exercise, by Mack Capehart Mulbah, provided lots of food for thoughts for all campers, volunteers and managers.
Tuesday, 9 August 2016 would be remembered by many including parents and guardians-anxious about the late arrival of their young ones, as our longest camp day. The Carter Center sponsored the excursion to Todee District, Bentol and Kakata where we had the unique opportunity of delivering peace messages to Traditional Chiefs. Yesterday was another all day excursion to Coca Cola Factory along and today, we would be at the American Embassy to discuss opportunities for exchange programmes for young people.
Next week Wednesday 17 August, Peace Summer Camp 2016 will close with a ceremony at the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism, Republic of Liberia Conference Hall.
Conclusions coming from the camp indicate that no country can deliver an effective long term peace and security programme without a comprehensive plan for the meaningful involvement and active participation of young people. Closer cooperation and collaboration between youth groups, and government institutions; and partnership with the private sector and international donor communities are the ways forward. We cannot say it loud enough; we need an inclusive approach for peace.
Until next week when we continue with our dialogue and bring you the concluding report on our Peace Summer Camp-Part 5, it’s peace first, peace above all else. May Peace Prevail in our time!