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Liberia celebrates International Youth Day with National Volunteers

© UNICEF Liberia/2013/ Dorji
UNICEF Liberia Country Representative Mr. Sheldon Yett urges national youth volunteers to 'seize the opportunity' to bring change to Liberia by applying their skills, energy and passion.

MONROVIA, Liberia, 12 August 2013 - “Liberia has an abundance of natural resources, but a country’s true wealth is measured in its human resources. A young, educated and engaged population, working hand-in-hand with their communities, is the country’s most precious resource, and an effective engine of change,” said Mr. Sheldon Yett, the UNICEF Liberia Country Representative.
Mr. Yett was speaking to the 5th batch of national youth volunteers gathered at the SKD Stadium in Monrovia to commemorate International Youth Day (IYD) on 12 August 2013. The volunteers are attending a five-week training on peacebuilding and leadership skills. 

The Ministry of Youth and Sports, with support from UNICEF, is organizing the training under the National Youth Service Programme (NYSP). The volunteers are being trained in conflict mediation and community work. The NYSP gives young volunteers the opportunity to gain valuable field experiences and skills while also contributing to nation building and promoting peace and reconciliation efforts in Liberia. 

The keynote speaker, Minister Eugene L. Nagbe of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, reminded the youth volunteers of the important roles they played in Liberia. Speaking on the theme for IYD 2013 – Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward, Minister Ngabe said that Liberia needed to retain the small pool of talented young and educated Liberians by promoting their future employment in the government and private sectors. 

“If we don’t provide what our youth need, then we will lose the cream of our population to migration because youth will migrate for better economic opportunities, for jobs,” he said. Minister Nagbe informed the volunteers that the Government of Liberia plans to work closely with partners to assimilate volunteers into the government and private sectors once they completed their voluntary services.
“We have a pool of talents that we need to utilize. Not all will be in the government, but some of you can contribute in the private sectors, as teachers, entrepreneurs, as an active part of the national workforce. It will not be an overnight solution, but we are already working on it,” he said. He reminded the participants that 70% of Liberia’s population were young people without whose participation Liberia cannot achieve its development goals. 

In a separate event on 12 August 2013, 40 US Peace Corps volunteer teachers, to be deployed in all 15 counties, were sworn in to support the education sector in Liberia. Peace Corps will be partnering with the National Youth Service Programme to enhance the capacity of the NYSP volunteers by pairing them with the Peace Corps volunteers for peer-to-peer mentoring. Peace Corps will also provide national volunteer teachers with education sector specific trainings based on their existing and successful training methodology used for Peace Corps volunteers.

Quincy Kollie, President of the national volunteers, said that all his volunteer colleagues were passionate about serving their beloved country Liberia. “We are heroes of our time striving to serve our country under difficult circumstances and challenges,” he said. 

After the training, the volunteers will be deployed in 11 target counties as “Agents of Peace” and initiate peace building activities in their assigned communities besides working in their specialised fields as teachers, health workers, public administrators and youth center managers. Agriculture volunteers will help farmers improve their crop yield and better market their produce. The 11 target counties are Bong, Bomi, Cape Mount, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Lofa, Maryland, Nimba, Montserrado, Sinoe and Grand Gedeh. 

Mr. Sheldon Yett thanked the Ministry of Youth and Sports and partners for their commitment and hard work in making the NYSP a huge success. He said that the programme not only contributed to easing the considerable human resource gap that the country faced, but also promoted peace, social cohesion and youth empowerment through the spirit of volunteerism. 

“You all have the power to change people’s lives for the better through your leadership skills, knowledge and passion. As national volunteers, you have been given the opportunity – Seize it. You have the skills to make a difference – Use them,” he said to the youth volunteers. 

The National Youth Service Programme is part of the reconciliation component under the Liberia Peacebuilding Programme (LPP), with the objective to mitigate conflict, enhance social cohesion and empower youth. 


For further information, please contact:
Kinley Dorji, Reports Officer, UNICEF Liberia,
Telephone # 0770-26-7111




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