One of the areas where donors have spent much money in Liberia’s recovery process is YOUTH EMPOWERMENT. Almost at every occasion where Liberian issue is discussed, youth and women empowerment always dominate.
There are a couple of reasons for which donors and government concentrate on youth empowerment programs as far as those institutions and organizations are concerned.
One of the reasons is that preparing the youth will provide a better future for the country by virtue of the fact that they must succeed the current generation of leaders. With this in mind, there have been established youth organizations that donors and government are heavily sponsoring – the Youth Exploring Solution (YES), Youth Political Leadership Program, Liberia Youth Education Program (LYEP), President’s Young Professionals Program, Messengers of Peace, Youth Network for Reform and Youth Climate Change Initiative-Liberia being some of them.
Another reason is that the young people are the main vulnerable people politicians and warlords use to fight and carry out violent demonstrations in a political crisis. As evidenced by the Liberian civil crisis, the majority of fighters in all factions at the time were youth. They were used by commanders to destroy infrastructures and carry out executions on the orders of commanders. Following war or political upheaval, the young people are left without any opportunity that will transform them.
Against the backdrop, youth programs have been supported to gain education and employment opportunities to prepare them for the future challenge.
It is predicated upon this thought for the future that the Swedish Government through Mercy Corps has allotted US$5.8 million to prepare young people for job opportunities. Young people aged between 15 and 35 are the targeted beneficiaries.
But how are the Liberian youths receiving the foreign gesture intended for their development and the development of the country? Monies coming into the country for youth empowerment are not meant to share among individuals, but to use it to build the capacity of the young people through vocational education, small business, formal education and other training that will better their lives.
But in most instances, Liberian youth give a blind eye to this opportunity since money does not come to them directly to use and purchase something. A lot of young people are only encouraged to attend vocation or training when they hear about Daily Sitting Allowance (DSA), or when an allotment is made for each candidate to receive a certain amount of money at the end of the training.
After training, they will not utilize what they learn by either establishing a business or doing something positive to impact their lives, but sit and look up to other people for charity or get involved in drug abuse. Even with the provision of formal academic education, many Liberian youths benefiting from donor money are not giving out their best to the country.
Instead of using their education to set a good example, a lot of them have the mindset of stealing in workplaces. Many theft cases that have been broadcast or published in the media have always involved young Liberians working in banking institutions and non-governmental organizations. Many Liberian youths tend to be indolent (lazy) and egocentric (selfish) that when they are even hired to work in an institution, they rather give preference to Facebook or computer games than performing the tasks for which they were hired.
We raise these concerns to draw the attention of the youth two things:
Firstly, those providing the money for the opportunities will leave one day and the destiny of Liberia will rest with you. In order to be adequately prepared to uphold the country in the absence of donors, young people need to make the best use of the opportunities provided them in preparation of what is ahead. Donor fatigue is a sure case as economies of all countries are becoming complex in the midst of rapidly growing populations; therefore, there will be a time that countries providing the money will concentrate on their own problems rather than those of others.
Secondly, Liberian youths must realize that each person is his/her own driver, and how well one prepares him/herself defines his/her destiny. German Philosopher and Sociologist Karl Marx mentioned in one of his views that in life, everyone is climbing a ladder from the bottom to the middle and then the top. According to him, not everyone is privileged to reach the top, but many are privileged to enter the center of the ladder. He, therefore, said it depends on one’s strength and determination to leave from the bottom to the center.
In this regard, we want to strongly advise Liberian youth to take advantage of the opportunities provided by donors to prepare themselves for positive things that will impact them and their country, bearing in mind that donors will leave one day and they will be left with the option to determine their own destiny.