Ms. Gwendolyn Myers, Executive Director of Messengers of Peace, has for the past several years produced a weekly column in the Daily Observer newspaper bringing public attention to one of the fundamental issues of our time—Peace.
In doing this, she has engaged many young people who have joined her in becoming “messengers of peace,” often even writing the column themselves when she is in the country or away. Her aim has been to engage young people and get them keenly interested in this key issue of Peace; and not keenly interested only, but faithfully committed to promoting peace in the country and wherever they find themselves.
Ms. Myers has gone one step further. She has become involved with other people in organizing a monthly writing competition aimed at encouraging young Liberians to learn and develop good writing skills. We think this is a selfless act on Gwendolyn’s part. She herself has mastered the art of good writing and developed a commitment to it; that is why she is able every week of the year to produce her “Messengers of Peace” column. Her aim is to pass on the writing talent to other young people and widen the circle of writers, not of Messengers of Peace only, but good writers of anything—to do better in school and in life; for good writing skills can carry an individual very far in life.
It is with this objective in mind—encouraging young Liberians and young people in general to develop good writing skills—that Ms. Myers has, along with others, organized a monthly writing competition among high school and other students. It is called the “Messengers of Peace Dialogue Writing Competition.” The Daily Observer plays a role in this competition by vetting the articles. The latest, held in May 2017, was won by a talented young woman, Ms. Damaris M. Jackson, a student of the African Methodist Episcopal University. On receiving her L$10,000 victory award, Damaris seized the opportunity to show another side of herself—she is not only a good writer but also a good speaker. Her winning Address, which our Reporter Alvin Worzi said was extemporaneous, dealt with one of the burning concerns of Liberian youth—their perception that government officials have a tendency to brand young people as “troublemakers” without, she said, “recognizing their contribution to society.”
Admitting that there indeed are some irresponsible youth in our society, she cautioned government officials and adults to realize that “the task of building an inclusive society requires the support of everyone, including the entire youth population.”
Here is another warning that this talented young woman sounded in her address, delivered without a single piece of paper in her hand: “The common task of creating a harmonious society is left in the hands of government officials and other adults. However, there is a need for the young people to be given the opportunity to be listened to and for their contributions to be recognized, because there are more young people that can be used as missionaries to develop this country.”
There is something beyond her eloquence that other young people should emulate about Ms. Jackson. This was her third attempt to participate in this competition. She twice failed to be accepted, but she did not give up! Firmly believing in the dictum, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again,” Ms. Jackson courageously put in her third application and she did not only win, but seized the opportunity to demonstrate clearly that she was not a good writer only, but an excellent speaker. How many people—young, middle aged or old—can stand before an unknown audience and orate the way Damaris did so eloquently and extemporaneously?
We highly commend Gwendolyn and her Messengers of Peace for this terrific initiative to organize and execute this writing competition to help Liberian youth to develop good writing skills. More besides, who admonished Messengers of Peace to let the winners speak, too? It is that decision that permitted Damaris to demonstrate her potential to become a new Angie Brooks on the national scene. No wonder Damaris told our reporter she wants to become, like Angie Brooks, a lawyer.
We call on all people of goodwill in Liberia, including the business community, civil society and the government, to lend their moral and financial support to the Messengers of Peace in order to empower MOP to expose more and more of our talented young people to demonstrate their talents. This will give them great encouragement to recognize their inborn talents and shoot for the moon.