US Chargé Alyson Grunder cautions participants to avoid making financial gain a primary motivation
By J. Lisa Lumeh
Under the theme, Galvanizing youth leadership with character, integrity, humility and courage for Africa, the Young Political Leadership School Africa (YPLS) has welcomed 90 young leaders to its 7th Cohort from 5 countries across the ECOWAS region in a one-week intensive leadership training. Two international participants are from The Gambia and Sierra Leone while the rest are from Liberia, but applications were also accepted from Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
In her motivational statement at the Bella Casa Hotel on Monday, November 23, Alyson Grunder, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of the United States, cautioned the participants not to always expect to be paid for voluntary services. “Financial gain shouldn’t always be your primary motivation in seeking leadership opportunities. Do not always expect to be paid or incentivized for services rendered when you serve others in your community and country,” she advised.
Africa’s 2063 Agenda, Aspiration 7 is to see a continent whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children, a true African Union.
It is with this agenda that Former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf called on participants of the Young Political Leadership School Africa (YPLS Africa) to be courageous, have integrity, practice dedication and commitment in their pursuit for public service.
Madam Sirleaf expressed great pleasure when she commended NAYMOTE and its partners for continuing the training program not only for Liberians but also extending it to other African countries, West Africa precisely.
“We are Pleased to have continued this training program. We appreciate the work that they do to be able to promote the capacity and participation of our young people. Many of you and some before you, have carried the banner of exemplary public service”, she applauded.
She continued: “When we started our administration, we realized that some of us being off-age had to bring in the younger generation to enable them to take responsibility for the development of their country and I’m sure this administration is following the same thing.”
Meanwhile, Neil Bradley, United Kingdom Ambassador, challenged the students to understand and know how to improve human development against the background of a growing population (girls’ education, healthcare, better nutrition); how to build a more prosperous and stable society with less poverty and less inequality; how to keep people safe, etc.
To attain all these, Bradley added, “Your value as a leader matters in tackling such challenges.”
Visually impaired participant, Vicencia Mature, said it’s a challenge for her to get accepted into leadership programs because of her disability.
“For me to get enrolled into NAYMOTE program wasn’t easy, but Executive Director, Eddie Jarwolo saw my ability as a young visually impaired girl and he knows I go for what I want because I’m educated.”
“There are a lot of us who are educated out there and want to be accepted into society. People also need to understand that people living with disabilities in Liberia should be accepted into society, accepted into leadership”, she added.
Vicencia said after this program she will carry into her community what she would acquire at the end of the the training. “I’m going to organize a workshop out there to teach people what I’ve learned here, and I believe we will make it work.”
Lamin Saidykhan, an international participant from The Gambia, said his aspiration for the training is to acquire knowledge to express, Educate and Empower young people to occupy key political positions in Africa.
According to Eddie Jarwolo, YPLS Africa Executive Director, the program objective seeks to contribute to the formation of a new generation of character-driven political leaders that would be accountable, responsive, and accessible to the needs and interests of the citizens and help to shape the future of their respective countries in a positive direction.
Some of the facilitators for this year’s training include Hh Zaizay, Executive Director of President’s Young Professional Program (PYPP); Leymah R. Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate, Founder and Head Gbowee Peace Foundation; Ibrahima Amadou Niang, Head of Guinea Country Office, OSIWA, among others.