Better Future Foundation (BFF), a proponent of the Liberia Democracy Sustainability Platform in collaboration with Youth Beyond Barriers (YBB), has completed a month-long series of lectures on the importance of youth participation in elections and other key aspects of promoting human rights and sustaining democracy.
Held on the theme, “Power of Your Vote,” the ceremony marked the final phase of the lecture series, which coincided with the final certification of 65 youth community peer mediators at the United States Embassy near Monrovia.
Sponsored by the United States Government through its Embassy, the training, which was held in five communities in Monrovia and its environs from July to August 2017, was aimed at educating first-time voters between the ages (18-23) from over 20 communities in Montserrado County on how to use their civic rights and duties to ensure peaceful and credible presidential and legislative elections.
It was also geared towards making first-time voters to understand how their votes can influence national growth and development; the need to avoid violence before, during and after the 2017 elections; and the negative effects of selling their votes.
Designed by Miss Jee-Won M. Arkoi, Exchange Alumni of the United States Department of States- PAYLP 2015, the seminar began on the Capitol Hill Campus of the University of Liberia.
As part of the ten training seminars conducted by BFF/YBB, each group of 50 trainees, according to their residential locations, participated in two days of training exercises and subsequently advanced a group resolution on how they (members of the group) intend to carry out and/or actualize the message/knowledge acquired from the workshop to their respective communities for sustainable peace and development in the country.
Prof. Debey Sayndee, Director, Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation at the University of Liberia, who spoke at the final certification program at the US Embassy, encouraged the participants to rise above any distraction and remain focused as they strive for quality education if they are to achieve their individual dreams and aspirations.
Prof. Sayndee also told the participants that they should, at all times, serve as goodwill ambassadors of BFF/YBB by promoting peaceful coexistence between and among youth and community residents and to rise about violence and other acts that have the potential to retard their development and progress in the society.
He the challenged young people to positively engage their peers to remain law-abiding and to subscribe to positive virtues including honesty, integrity, credibility, hard-work, and voluntarism.
In his intervention at the occasion, Cllr. Mark M. M. Marvey, an official of the Heritage Partners and Associates law firm, cautioned Liberian youth to strive for learning opportunities and to exercise care in making decisions which have the potential to affect not only their lives but the Liberian nation now and in the future.
He said young people must always try to be the best in whatever they do, including their academic, vocational, technical and professional endeavors, adding: “Nothing is impossible to achieve if you work hard in achieving your desired goals.”
Kojo Ross, Deputy Director of the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), encouraged young people to take advantage of workshops and other programs that seek to enhance their skills and reasoning.
Ross emphasized that such skills should be used effectively in the service of their communities, humanity and the larger society.
He also told the seminar participants to carry out sacrificial development and peace-building services for the benefit of their respective communities and others in need.
Rebecca Archer-Kneper, Acting Public Affairs Officer of the U.S. Embassy, lauded the youth for their participation in the program.
Archer-Kneper also commended BFF for getting YBB youth from different communities to be a part of the program, which she described as history-making. The US Embassy official, who presented certificates to the trainees, used the occasion to disclose that the United States is awaiting a peaceful political transition in Liberia, and praised the youth for their involvement in the country’s democratic process.
Communities whose youth representatives participated in the seminar included Peace Island, Bardnersville, 72nd Army Camp Field, West Point, PHP, Central Monrovia, Old Road, Lakpazee, Fiama, Matadi.
Others were Sinkor, Jamaica Road, New Kru Town, Point 4 and Duala, as well as youths representing Vai Town, Clara Town, Logan Town, Brewerville, Virginia (Ricks) and Caldwell.
According to BFF president, Augustine S. Arkoi, the YBB, which provided technical support for the workshop, is the youth leadership and development program of BFF established in 2007, with the core objectives to “Breaking barriers, building/strengthening relationships and promoting development.”