The Liberia YMCA yesterday graduated 54 young people from West Point and Slipway under the second phase of life skills training of the Multi Country Slums Development Project titled: “Young People as Agents of Change Helping to Transform Slum Settlements”.
The beneficiaries underwent training in different disciplines in both vocational and apprenticeship programs for 9 to 14 months. The training included: auto mechanics, electronics, tailoring, masonry, cosmetology and pastry making. With funding from Comic Relief through Y Care International, the graduation is the second phase of vocational, entrepreneurship and life skills training for beneficiaries in two slum settlements in Monrovia – West Point and Slipway.
Giving an overview of the project, the Coordinator of the YMCA Multi Slum Development Project, Vivien Beh, said during the first phase 187 young people (111 males & 76 females) from West Point and Slipway were trained in basic advocacy skills and civic responsibilities, a press release said.
“The YMCA facilitated a series of advocacy engagement meetings between the young people of West Point and Slipway and their leaders from the local level to the national to discuss issues affecting their communities and the nation at large,” Beh said.
Madam Beh said the Liberia YMCA and partners under the project constructed water points, latrines and held youth-led health and hygiene training; the establishment and strengthening of local associations of slum dwellers to enable them to better advocate for pro-poor approaches to slum upgrading and development.
Under the project 17 young people, 8 females and 9 males from West Point and Slipway, were trained in health and hygiene education to serve as peer educators. Ten of the 17 young people from Slipway and West Point were trained as peer educators.
The keynote speaker, Acting Montserrado County Superintendent, Sylvester Saye Lama, told the graduates that acquisition of skills implies that they are now prepared to act as agents of change.
He said West Point and Slipway have similar problems, with sanitation being one of the many problems in these slum communities. He lauded YMCA, Y Care International and Comic Relief for helping young people in the two slum communities acquire skills.
Citing the gender balance among the graduates, Lama praised the organizers of the training and said women are competing with men, bringing a lot of transformation. Hon Lama said. “Today in West point, there is a lot being done by YMCA and these activities are in line with the county development programs,” he concluded.
Liberia YMCA National General Secretary, E. Edward Gboe, in his remarks said young people are confronted with many challenges, not only in Liberia but other countries in Africa as well, and if these conditions are not addressed there will be tension among young people as well as crimes and other vices.
In partnership with Y Care International, with funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) – UK Aid, the project will contribute to the social and economic empowerment of 710 young slum dwellers (15-24) in seven zones of West Point, Monrovia.
A Y Care official challenged the trainees to use their skills wisely. “Remember now you have skills, always use your skills and you can make a massive change in your communities,” Helen Frost said.
Earlier, the Chairman of the National Board of the Liberia YMCA, Jonathan Mason, challenged the trainees to prove critics wrong. “Do not take this training lightly because this is your livelihood,” he said.
Some of the trainees spoken to after the program expressed joy about their newly acquired skills. Oretha M. Zor, the only female who acquired skills in electronics, said she is proud to be the only female among all the men acquiring such skill; while John Michael Kollie, who did tailoring, said prior to his newly acquired skill, he was idle, but now will be able to set up his own business by opening a tailor shop.
Following the graduation, the beneficiaries were provided toolkits as part of their post training support. This will enable them to start their own ventures by practicing their trade to improve their livelihoods.