As part of efforts to maintain Liberia’s peace and security, the Angie Brooks International Center (ABIC) has begun intensifying its engagement with disadvantaged youths on how to maintain peace and security in the country.
The one-day engagement with these disadvantaged youths on the importance of peace is aimed at rehabilitating and reintegrating them in society to become peace ambassadors at community level.
Speaking during the occasion, the Head of Programs at ABIC, Gifty Mensah, highlighted the organization’s activities, saying that ABIC, with support from the Global Initiative Resilience Fund (GIRF), has piloted an entrepreneurial project in 5 communities for 250 gang youths between August and November 2020.
The project, according to Miss Mensah, was the first to link youth from selected slums and ghettos with entrepreneurship, which ultimately creates role models for other gang members within their communities, thereby breaking the stereotypes to attach to those youths.
She indicated that the goal of the project is to identify youth in selected communities, train them and provide seed capital to commence a business venture within their communities. She, however, clarified that all COVID-19 protocols are being exercised during the project implementation.
The project, she said, accounts for several networks of organized crime and gang violence, which unfortunately, transcend these youth groups to include state actors, who instead of creating economic opportunities for the youth, act with impunity by recruiting, sponsoring and utilizing these disenfranchised youth in criminal activities to win political power.
Miss Mensah further disclosed that ABIC has undertaken several initiatives that include donation of hand-washing and other COVID-19 preventive materials, youth peer to peer peace process in 6 communities in Montserrado. She named Caldwell, Paynesville (Gobachoup) field, King Gray Community, Clara Town, among other communities, which are also being targeted. Other engagements include meeting the press, a conversation with the disadvantage youths, urban peace dialogue, training in entrepreneurship, soccer for peace, certification, pitch festival and award of seed funding.
However, this initiative, she added, is a cycle of poverty and negative imagery that is often difficult to break for generations. Against this backdrop, the youth in slums face not only lacking basic services, little or no education and unemployable skills, but additionally have to deal with the issue of creating their identities, shouldering responsibility and making it on their own. Therefore, she said creating economic opportunities for such population is crucial for the peace and security for the country.
Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Olubanke King–Akerele, Board Chair of ABIC, stressed the importance of maintaining Liberia’s peace and security. She said the culture of peace among Liberians especially the youth is cardinal to the growth and development of the country.
Madam King-Akerele challenged the disadvantaged youths to see themselves as change makers and not trouble makers. “Each of you here today can become great men and women of Liberia if only you become an agent of change.”
In brief remarks, former Paynesville Mayor Cyvette Gibson, told the disadvantaged youths that despite the situation, hope is alive and they should be determined to put on the attitude of change.
Madame Gibson who served as one of the motivational speakers at the occasion underscored the need for young people to acknowledge that the peace everyone has enjoyed over the last years was from a collective effort that should never be ignored or compromised for any reason.
At the end of the event, dozens of the disadvantaged youths thanked ABIC for the level of transformation in the individual’s lives. Those who got transformed through ABIC’s intervention further told the audience that they will be an agent of peace.