With the quest to maintain Liberia’s peace, Messengers of Peace-Liberia Incorporated (MOP), has graduated 65 adolescents and youth to assist in propagating peace messages to ensure that the country’s peace is maintained before, during, after the 2017 elections.
At the graduation exercise yesterday, held at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism in Monrovia, the graduates put on an impressive performance, including public speaking and drama towards sustaining Liberia’s peace, and selection.
“We learnt how to implement the UNSCR # 2250, resolve conflict, mediate and how to conduct ourselves before, during and after the elections,” said Ms. Gwendolyn Myers, founder and executive director of Messengers of Peace-Liberia Incorporated (MOP). “We all had fun during the peace camp; we played, danced our traditional style of dancing, salsa, acquired new language skills-French, Spanish and local dialect Kpelle.”
Ms. Myers said this year’s peace summer camp has focused on the upcoming Presidential and general elections; as some of the young campers would be voting for the first time and needed to raise their self-esteem, literacy level, Life and Language skills of youth ages 8-29 years.
According to her, over seventy youth were drawn from several schools and communities where MOP operates its weekly coaching and mentoring programmes and bi-weekly Wheel project. They praised the volunteers from the UN Agencies and CBOs; camp managers, guest speakers and lecturers who took off their busy schedules to impart knowledge on them at this year’ camp.
Director Myers said the camp activities were intense as young people from the broad spectrum of the society interacted at different levels of non-formal learning. “We had the unique opportunity of conducting field excursions trips to UNMIL, ECOWAS and participated in Community outreach and engagement services during the International Youth Day, National Flag Day and weekends. Our campers were exposed to electoral processes and even conducted their own camp elections,” she said.
“Parents and guardians here present, you must have noticed obvious or refined changes among your children for the better. Personal changes that begin with the seeds of peace planted at our camps are long lasting and we trust you will help enhance what we started with your wards,” she said.
According to director Myers, during the peace camp, they encountered several challenges. “Besides the funding and other logistical challenges we faced, there were campers that had challenges with interpersonal relationship, while others had issues communicating in public. There were other issues with reading and writing. Some of these issues we addressed and some we need to explore further with government and non-government partners.”
She lauded ECOWAS/EU for their financial, technical support and encouragement and for inclusive participation; the “Emergency Support to Preventive Diplomacy and Related Actions to ensure a free, fair and peaceful Elections in Liberia”; UNMIL DSRSG Rule of Law Mr. Waldemar Vrey for allowing Liberian youths into UNMIL HQ and for the VCT engagement with young people; the UNVs Liberia, MOP colleague Paige from MIT in Boston for the special training on the introduction of research for young people; the Daily Observer for their trust, publicity and support; the Lebanese Community in Liberia for the bags of rice, oil and drinks; Liberia Coca-Cola Bottling Company for their support; the President, as well trusted men and women of the Rotary Club, Monrovia for your unflinching support.
Natt Walker, a representative from the Economic Community of West African States, said the Community is pleased to support the MOP’s focus on sustaining Liberia’s peace through the engagement of young people.
He recounted ECOWAS’ position to maintain peace and will continue to ensure that Liberia’s elections are free, fair and transparent, adding that, “We are impressed with the level of participation by the young graduates and hope that they can carry such in their various communities.”
He called on MOP to continue to engage these young graduates, which will help them in many ways, stating that “We will be ready to support you.”
The parents who spoke lauded director Myers for the level of support and education provided for young people, especially in the area of maintaining Liberia’s peace.
“We want you to demonstrate what you were taught within your various communities. You are messengers and hope that you will remain peaceful while ensuring that Liberia is peaceful as well,” one of the parents told graduates.