Fmr. Pres. Sirleaf Urges Youth to Quit Drug – As Angie Brooks Completes Training of 90 Youth

 By: Stephen G. Fellajuah

The Monrovia City Hall on Thursday, June 17, 2021 was a scene of attraction and joy when several prominent people including present and past officials turned out to grace the grand graduation, certification and award of seed funding of 90 disadvantaged youth (zogos), where former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf urged the disadvantaged graduating youth to do away with drug addiction in order to have a better future.

The program held at the climax of a project titled: Entrepreneur and Peace-building Interventions for Youth in Slum in Liberia Against Organized Crimes and Gang Violence, was also attended by Youth and Sports Minister Zogar Wilson, the Swedish Ambassador, and dignitaries from the UN system.

Ninety disadvantaged youths from selected communities, including Clara Town, Gobachop, Westpoint, Duport Road, Caldwell and New Georgia communities, who were selected from the midst of more than 250 disadvantaged youths from across 12 slum communities in Montserrado County were recruited for the program, with each of the six selected communities awarded five thousand United States (5,000) dollars seed funding for entrepreneurship.

Making special remarks at the program, the former Liberian Chief Executive expressed excitement and appreciated Angie Brooks International Center (ABIC) and partners for the brilliant initiative, and said it will help mitigate the unproductiveness of disadvantaged youth across Montserrado while at the same time making them to become agents of change in the society.

Former President Sirleaf implored the graduating youths to make use of the knowledge and skills they have acquired, saying, “When you put aside the drug and start to do something in your respective communities, you will feel proud of yourself.”

She noted that people will no longer refer to the graduating disadvantaged youths with all kinds of ugly names as long as they utilize the skills acquired, nor will people reject them in the society. Instead, she said they will rather be happy for the change that they have experienced and begun to practice, and the people will ‘be willing to work along with you in the society,’

According to the  first female elected President of Africa, there are great potentials in the youthful generation;  but she stressed they have to do away with drug addiction and strengthen their capacities and make use of opportunities given them in order to form part of the development drive of the country.

Overwhelmed by excitement, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declared her intention to help ABIC and partners to support the next skill training program for the disadvantaged youth, saying the project suits the objective of the Liberian people and called on others to follow the same.

“I’m really proud of the six slums communities, and everyone that participated in this project. I want to see this project implemented in other communities to help the government to build a good society free of crimes and violence”, She said.

Also making remarks, the Swedish Ambassador near Monrovia, Madam Ingrid Wattervist, said Liberia can have a productive youthful society that can help the country in the next 59 years if only there are plans and policies to provide opportunities and skills training that will help them learn how to setup businesses for themselves and become self-reliance to contribute to nation building.

As one of Liberia biggest donors and partners, the Swedish envoy noted that the  Swedish Government will continue to provide opportunities and support to Liberia, but stressed that the development of the country is something that needs to be decided by the citizens and government themselves.

Madam Wattervist furthered that it’s time that young people make use of opportunities and take the rightful step that will change the country, regardless of who they are, where they come from or how limited the resources available to them, adding that it’s time for them to do something with their hands to contribute to the country.

She added, “I’m grateful to ABIC for the program. It’s welcoming and I just hope that what all these young people have learned will be implemented. Liberia is really blessed to have such a youthful generation that many countries do not have. We need to make use of the opportunity and impact our communities and country.”

In his remarks, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Zeogar Wilson said the Government of Liberia considers the issues of disadvantaged youth important. He stated that President George Manneh Weah is seriously concerned, and pointed out that the issue of disadvantaged is not political, instead a national security issue.

“The situation in which you find yourself poses a national security risk to the country”, the Youth & Sports Minister said, indicating that the issues of zogos will be the next crisis in the country if nothing is done to rehabilitate and refine them. He then pledged the Ministry’s support to Aggie Brooks.

Minister Wilson averred that the Government of Liberia is at the verge of finalizing a joint concept document with the US to transform the Youth Agriculture Training Center in Bensonville into a rehabilitation center for disadvantaged youth of the country.

The Minister then thanked the Angie Brooks and Global Resilience Fund for buttressing efforts by the government of Liberia in strengthening the capacity of the youthful generation.

At the same time, the Establishment Coordinator of ABIC, Cllr. Yvette Cheson-Wureh thanked her colleagues from the women situation room for their support and participation, saying they are the strength behind the success of the project.

Madam Cheson-Wureh lauded her partner for the support and called on the graduates to make use of the skills given them and to make sure that they remain in the path of greatness.

She noted, “You people are all good people with great vision and ambition. I want you to make use of the skills acquired. The five thousand United States dollars that was presented to each of you, representing the six slum communities, is intended to start up your business. I want to see you doing good in your business and never to return to your ugly deeds.”

For their part, the disadvantaged graduating youth thanked ABIC and its partners for the training and seed funding, and said they will make sure to explore the skills acquired and wisely invest the funds in several  businesses that  will better their lives and impact their communities.

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