The newly appointed Assistant Minister for Youth Development, Kulah Fofana, said her foremost duty, if confirmed by the Liberian Senate, would be to rescue beggars and the destitute from the streets, including drug-dependent hustlers, and make them responsible citizens.
Madam Fofana said “clamping down on street beggars and hustlers” would help control elements of society that render the country vulnerable.
The Assistant Youth Minister designate spoke to the Daily Observer Tuesday in an exclusive interview at her offices at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, where she works as the Director of the Adolescent Division.
Fofana, 28, stated that her office would write donor funding proposals to assist government in raising funding for the program.
“We will be able to impress upon donors that the funds are essential to the stability of the country,” Fofana said.
“This would be my top undertaking; and with the help of Youth and Sports Minister Saah Charles N’tow and other colleagues, government would take them off the streets. It would mean a lot of work, but we will do it to make our friends and families become better persons and make our country safer. The work has already started by talking with the head of the Challenged Youths Group.”
Rough estimates put the number of street hustlers, including hardcore criminals, in and around Monrovia at more than 2,000.
Fofana has been an advocate and activist on young people’s issues since 2006 when she was in high school at the Caldwell A.G. High School, where she organized the United Girls Club when she was 18 years old.
She attributes her passion for youth issues to the ‘tough life’ she experienced as a refugee at the age of eight, first in Liberia and then in Sierra Leone, from 1996 to 2004.
When she entered university, her advocacy increased, with special emphasis on young women. She headed the Paramount Young Women’s Initiative, which sought to advocate, educate and empower young women and girls.
She also led the Liberian Youths’ Common Position on the United Nations’ Post-2015 Development Agenda for Liberia as a National Consultant. She engages Liberian youth throughout the country in a robust consultation process to contribute their voices to the Common African Position on the Post-2015 Agenda.
Fofana also served as the co-chairman on Liberia’s 2030 Vision. Her appointment is subject to confirmation by the Liberian Senate.
Street hustlers are those who are experiencing homelessness and live on the streets of Monrovia and its environs, especially in market stalls and ghettos. The causes of this phenomenon are varied, but are often related to the civil war, domestic, economic, or social disruption including, but not limited to, poverty, breakdown of homes and/or families; sexual, physical or emotional abuse; domestic violence; being lured by pimps and begging syndicates; mental health problems; substance abuse; and sexual orientation or gender identity issues.