Mohandas Gandhi, the Father of Indian Democracy, once said, “If we are to teach real peace in this world… we shall have to begin with the children.”
In March 2013- , Messengers of Peace- Liberia during an official welcoming ceremony for over 15 women from the Women Peacebuilding Leadership Cohort at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, Eastern Mennonite University, VA, USA, launched its Peace Clubs at The First Assembly of God High School, Buchannan Street, Monrovia, Liberia to inspire young Liberians to become peace building leaders.
The discussion at that forum focused on “The Importance of Peace Clubs in Liberian Schools and Communities”. We brought together established peace clubs from two schools—Muslim Congress High School and First Assembly of God High School and one community—Matadi Community in Monrovia, together with Mentees from our Coaching and Mentorship Program for Adolescents Girls in Peacebuilding, Caldwell, Liberia.
The program, well-attended by the media, both print and electronic and other young women from USA, Kenya, Somalia, Somali-land, Fiji, Pacific, and Solomon Island, discussed the multiplier effects of functional peace clubs in schools and communities. Experiences were shared; friendships made and hope for a peaceful world was reinforced at this event.
Since the launch of our peace clubs, we have observed the growth of several other peace clubs by other organizations and we encourage many more to follow in our footsteps. For according to Tom Peters, an American business management guru, “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”
The ultimate goal of our peace clubs is to unleash the potentials of a generation of young people to create peace. Our program of non violence and peace education is connecting in and out of school youths around the sub-region to promote sustainable peace. Young people in our peace clubs are empowered with the essential pieces of information, knowledge, attitude and skills to be responsible students, citizens and Peacebuilders.
It is incumbent on our peace volunteers to maintain the highest standard of behavior. We teach communications skills for collaboration, peer coaching and emotional intelligence (self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management).
Basically, our goal is to organize young Liberians and to make them useful to self and others. According to Bill Gates- an American business
magnate, philanthropist, investor, computer programmer, inventor, present richest man in the world, “As we look ahead into the next century; leaders will be those who empower others”. To date, more than 20 “Peace Clubs” have been formed, by Messengers of Peace-Liberia, in major educational institutions in and around Monrovia. In many of the high schools, the school principals and some of the senior school teachers are dedicating their time and resources to making these clubs vibrant. We have been impressed by the enthusiasm of our youth and of their willingness to take up leadership responsibilities.
We are particularly happy and encouraged to read about on-going discussion on the development of a peace curriculum that would be incorporated in the National Educational Curriculum and used for NGOs, professionals and local community leaders. We echo the sentiments of Mr. Saku Dukuly, Director of the Technical Vocational Education Training that “Educating young people, especially students to understand the dilemmas, tradeoffs and potential of conflict resolution, and prevention is a good thing for our people…”
Working with young people in Liberia is our top priority and we sincerely hope that the proposed peace curriculum would focus on making education functional, entrepreneurship, political inclusion, human rights and reproduction health. For a holistic approach to peace curriculum development, we need the inputs of youth and youth-based organizations.
It is our believe that with a vibrant peace education program in our schools and communities, there could be a change in controlling violence in schools and improving friendly school environment between teachers, and students, parents and teachers and among neighbors. Discipline amongst students and teachers would increase and so would be positive peer culture.
Following our just concluded fundraising drive –“The Dollar for Peace Campaign,” we are now vigorously pursuing the next steps of building strong base for our peace clubs program in 30 additional schools in Liberia. Watch this column for progress made through stories from our volunteers as the momentum builds. We address the root causes of conflict around the country. Join us.
We conclude with a quote from Peter Drucker, when he said, “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes.” The voices of our volunteer peace messengers will drown out those that preach division and hatred. The world would have to rely on those that speak the language of tolerance and respect.
Until next week, Peace, above all, Peace First, Let Peace Prevail.