By Bill Ivans Gbafore, Monitoring & Evaluation Officer, Messengers of Peace-Liberia Inc (MOP)
Years ago, at Messengers of Peace – Liberia Inc (MOP), we sought extension of our programme activities beyond Montserrado to other counties and provide a platform for youth voices to be heard across the country. This new move was not only challenging as a self-sponsored NGO but was daring and audacious. Howbeit, the urge to serve humanity was deep and through series of mentorship and coaching, we began to raise a new breed of youth peace messengers across Liberia as a way of leveraging the potential of every young Liberian, irrespective of their background, in issues of peace and security.
We recognized, at that time, the importance of getting the involvement of young people as equal partners in sustainable peace and security, which many thought as the exclusive domain of male and or those in Government. We also recognized that empowering young people to act for peace through civic responsibilities and meaningful actions in their communities should not be solely centered in the country’s capital. A decentralized and inclusive approached was needed in tapping into the vast reserve of potential youths possess as we integrate them into national development plans.
Last Tuesday, three young female Volunteer Peace Messengers, Bomi, Bong & RiverCess Counties, left the shores of Monrovia, Liberia for Stockholm, Sweden, to undertake training in Conflict Prevention & Leadership Programme (CPLP) at the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA), Swedish Agency for Peace, Security & Development. The three young ladies are among 15 young Liberians selected, following a rigorous selection process conducted by FBA over a six-month period. The stories of these three young ladies resonate with us all and would be told for a very long time.
The story is for Cecelia Ben, a young girl from leeward Rivercess County who sells fish but volunteers at Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia, as one of our focal points. Never had she thought this would come her way; it is also for Blessing Kallon and Fatu Bolay of Bomi and Bong Counties respectively. These young volunteers have always been at the frontline of MOP programmes in the sectors holding everyday dialogues and community outreach in their respective counties.
In the years ahead, bigger and better opportunities would present for our other young volunteers beyond Monrovia who everyday seek to empower self and others; who in their everyday endeavor to promote the meaningful involvement and active participation of Youth in Peace and Security Agenda through a decentralized process.
As we continue this peace journey and look forward to the return of our Swedish based trainee, we plan to transfer acquired skills and knowledge to the volunteers at our Monrovia’s office and those holding our roots in rural Liberia and to other opportunities that will equip them with peacebuilding skills and advance peace and security knowledge.
We also look forward to an idealistic transformation from this training and a multiplier effect to other areas of Liberia. The quest for sustainable peace where no one will be left behind but holistic inclusiveness will rank top on our agendas as we empower other youths.
Our partnership with FBA celebrates shared values for peace and development and we take this opportunity to express appreciation for this level of support in the face of existing limited opportunities for abundant young talents in Liberia.
Advocacy, Dialogue, Mediation and Arbitration are the essential ingredients of every sustainable peace initiative. We wish all the participants bon voyage and a productive training.
Until next week when we dialogue on ‘the training component and other issues, let peace be your watch word, Peace above all else, Peace first, May Peace prevail!