Ms. Domaris E. M. Jackson, the winner of Messengers of Peace Youth Peace Dialogue Writing Competition for April, has called on the Government to build the capacity of young people across the country and recognize their contributions, especially to Liberia’s peace building.
Ms. Jackson made the appeal yesterday at the official award ceremony at the Soltiamon Christian High School in Sinkor, when she received L$10,000, making her the third winner of the monthly competition which began in March. The Soltiamon Christian High School also provided an additional US$60 to Ms. Jackson for her impressive output in discussing peace in Liberia and for winning the competition.
“In Liberia nowadays,” she said, “young people are being left out or are at the back when discussing peace and security. It is because they don’t have the (capacity) to explore and are often labeled as troublemakers and rebellious.”
She stressed that government officials and some adults have failed to understand that while there are some irresponsible young people, the task of building an inclusive society requires the support of everyone, including the entire youth population.
“The enormous task of creating a harmonious society is left in the hands of government officials and other adults. However, there is a need for the young people to be given the opportunity to be listened to and for their contributions to be recognized, because there are more young people that can be used as missionaries to develop this country,” Ms. Jackson said.
Ms. Jackson, 20, indicated that peace and security are the inborn rights of every individual in society, adding, “Why will our government continue to label young people as troublemakers, suggesting that young people can only be used for destruction?
“This country is a constitutional republic and according to article 11, every Liberian is born equally free and independent and has certain inherent rights to enjoy life, security, liberty and prosperity and others.”
Ms. Jackson also said it is difficult for young people to believe in the famous saying that “Young people are the future leaders” when parents, government officials, guardians and others continue to brand them as troublemakers throughout the country, without recognizing their contributions to society.
“We will not believe that young people are the future leaders until our capacities are built. And it is not because the government lacks the political will to make things happen for the young people but because they have refused to recognize the importance of young people in our society,” Ms. Jackson said.
She lauded Messengers of Peace-Liberia (MOP) and the Daily Observer newspaper for birthing the opportunity to encourage young people to improve their writing skills, stating that “MOP is demonstrating its commitment to supporting peace and security in the country.”
Elisabeth Harleman, head of Development Cooperation at the Swedish Embassy near Monrovia, said the potential of Liberia’s fragile peace and security rests on everyone, especially the young people.
“Each of you,” she said, “will have to contribute to strengthening the country’s democracy and political awareness and participation. Liberians have the power to create the kind of Liberia and the future you want. Peace is cardinal to building Liberia. No one is capable of giving you a better future than yourselves.”
Madam Harleman urged young people to be active in the peace, security and development of the country, adding: “You must be able to find solutions in sustaining Liberia’s peace and political stability. The youth have a unique opportunity to bring Liberia back on track.”