As part of an effort to ensure peace and security in Liberia, West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP) with support from the Catholic Relief Service (CRS) and other partners has organized an “Open Stage Theater Event” for 16 communities in Montserrado County.
The Open Stage Theater which ran from February 17 -18, 2021 was organized to engage communities on the importance to ensure peaceful coexistence and a non-violence approach as a way for conflict resolution. It seeks to create more peace awareness for hotspot communities during and after elections.
The event took place in two separate locations in Monrovia with the intention to bring together young people, elders, community leaders, market women as well as the religious community to discuss the importance of maintaining Liberia’s peace.
Addressing a huge gathering of participants in the Lakpazee community, the WANEP National Coordinator, Delphine Morris disclosed that despite everyone’s political affiliation, Liberia as a nation still needs peace before, during, and after elections.
“It is very much important to engage selected communities to preach peace messages to citizens, especially the youth in maintaining the country’s peace,” madam Morris said. “We have come to encourage our brothers and sisters in the communities to continue to maintain the peace that we have enjoyed for the past decades.”
Madam Morris called on the youth of the Lakparzee community, market women, community leaders, religious leaders to serve as peace ambassadors, stating that there can be no development without peace.
According to her, every Liberian is a custodian of the country’s peace, and as such, it is essential to coexist. She recalled that before the December 2020 Senatorial elections her organization engaged several communities including West Point, New Kru Town, Logon Town, Gaye Town among others.
“We have come again to remind you about post-election violence. Your role in keeping the peace is highly important,’’ Madam Morris told the gathering of peaceful citizens. “Our ambassadors are working with community leaders, youth groups, market women, and the religious groups to track violence incidents and report to the community leaders to resolve those issues.”
She added that with support from partners, the organization also has about 16 peace ambassadors in Montserrado County. These peace ambassadors according to her, were assigned in those communities that are considered hotspots.
However, she noted that violence that has to do with a criminal offense is forwarded to the Liberia National Police (LNP). Madam Harris recounted the tough times Liberia had gone through since the end of the country civil conflict that resulted in most youth being violent.
“After the war, some of the children’s behavior has changed. Consequently. our institution decided to continue with peace messages because there is a need to change their minds and attitude towards peaceful coexistence,” she asserted.
Lakparzee Community Chairman, Nyemonh Kumeh, who also spoke to the community people said that the issue of violence is becoming a culture in the Liberian society, and as such, there is a need that every citizen gets involve in cautioning the communities. He maintained that dialogue is the best way to resolve conflict in post-war Liberia.
Mr. Kumeh also promised to work along with the WANEP and its partners to ensure that the country’s peace is not undermined by any individual. Meanwhile, CRS Project Assistant, Mazoe N. Cortee in remarks thanked WANEP for organizing the event and stressed the importance of Liberian maintaining the peace.
“With the existence of peace, there can be a good health care system, better education as well as infrastructures development.
She encouraged participants to take the message of peace back to their various communities so that those who were not part of the program could help keep Liberia peaceful.