All protocols observed, acknowledgement/recognition, I bring you warm greetings from volunteers, staff and board of directors, Messengers of Peace- Liberia Inc (MOP). Thank you to the graduating class and St. Teresa Convent Catholic School family for this invitation to speak on our contribution to peace as women of the future. I am greatly honored, humbled and greatly privileged to be asked to speak with you on this very important happy occasion.
It is indeed a joyous occasion and one that we should all be proud of. I can’t believe how quickly time flies by. Ten years ago, I was seating right here, ready; and just like you, ready to graduate and never for one moment thought a return to my Alma-Mater would be possible. Let me confess, I get goose bumps standing before you.
I would, therefore, like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the administration of St. Teresa Convent, the teachers; some of whom I still recognize, for the knowledge they impact in us and for going beyond the call of duty.
Allow me to commence by offering my heartfelt congratulations to the 41 students graduating from St. Teresa Convent class of 2014/2015 for achieving this milestone. Congratulations also go to the proud family members and friends who have faithfully stood by you as you studied.
In delivering this address, permit me to use of the indispensable tools of impacting information, storytelling.
Liberia, as you are all aware, is in transition phase of nation building and sustainable peace following a thirteen year of unbroken peace. Liberia needs you for sustainable peace.
As you enter into another phase of development, the challenges, my young ladies, are huge. You will agree with me that the world is changing. Change is necessary, but could be painful and challenging. Ten years ago, there were 17 conflicts, with varying degrees of form and intensity, in Africa alone. The consequences of these conflicts vary, and Liberia is not isolated.
There is global warming, religious intolerance, cultural indifference, and paradigm shifts in our social orientation. We are confronted daily with an escalation of violent extremism among young people.
Liberia as a nation has been inundated with high levels of corrupt practices; fueled to a larger extent by favoritism, social class, color and complexion, IQ and not necessarily by EQ. You will, like many of us are, be appalled by the scale of sexual violence including rape, human trafficking, harassment and intimidation in all areas of life including but not limited to your pursuit for further education, employment, career growth and sports.
As girls, there would be other challenges and temptations but these problems should not deter us and our diversity should not be our weakness, but should be our strength.
The opportunities, as presented by the UNSCR # 2250, are many and we should take advantage of this resolution.
Our contributions, either as individuals or groups, to peace as women of the future would be defined by how we tackle and manage these challenges. The tasks before us are by no means daunting, but not impossible; peace, my dear friends, is possible.
We just need to start with ourselves. We also need to sharpen our emotional intelligence. As the saying goes in the Liberia colloquial; “Shine your eyes.” Be true to yourself and refrain from activities and behaviors that others, like the St. Teresa Convent, would frown upon.Young women don’t criticize others;
they take action.
Be good ambassadors of this great school. Remember, you have been found worthy in learning and character. Spare a thought for Liberia and act with your head on your shoulder. Ellen DeGeneres sums it all up. I quote “Success is to live your life with integrity and to not give in to peer pressure to try to be something that you’re not.” end of quote.
Until next year, when we come back to you to sponsor a peace child for Summer Camp 2017, and until (next) week when we continue with our dialogue among peace messengers by bringing to you part two of this statement, it’s peace first, peace above all else. May Peace Prevail in our time!