LIBERIA: Hopes Are Alive As Gov’t announces Implementation of At Risk Youth Program Beginning Next Week

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The Government of Liberia(GoL), through the National Steering Committee, has officially announced the implementation of the At Risk Youth program.

The exercise, according to the Chairman of the National Steering Committee, D. Zeogar Wilson, will begin on Monday, August 21, 2023 targeting initially four counties. The four counties are Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Bomi respectively.

Speaking at the Ministry of Information Culture Affairs and Tourism(MICAT) regular press briefing on Thursday, August 17, 2023, Minister Wilson said the process will be fully voluntary.

“The process will be done on a willing basis by the young people and will start with detoxification before subsequent referral to the targeted rehabilitation centers,” he told reporters.

Explaining further, he stated that they can’t move all of the At Risk Youth at once, as such, under the first one to three months, they are hoping of enrolling one thousand of them.

” We will have professional people to speak with them, screen them on a willing basis before we will have them into the process,” Minister Wilson stated.

Minister Wilson disclosed that the process will visit various areas and ghettos in the initial four counties.

Montserrado County, the Chairman asserted, will have six recruitment sites to include: Mandela Field Point Four, Bushrod Island, 72nd Barracks Field , Pelham Building on Center Street , BW Harris School area behind the Finance and Development Planning Ministry, Zimbabwe around the SKD Complex and Invincible Sports Park area respectively.

As for Margibi, he named the two sites as CH Rennie Hospital in Kakata City and Dolo’s Town , lower Margibi, while Bomi will also consist of two sites to include: Bomi Health Team Compound and the Gbah Public Clinic area and Grand Bassa County with two centers, namely : Liberia Government Hospital and the Rescue mission compound , all in Buchanan City respectively.

Additionally, the process, he mentioned, will also have six detoxification centers and thirteen rehab centers across the four response counties.

According to Minister Wilson , President George Manneh Weah believes in addressing the plights of At Risk Youth, as such, he warned others not to politicize such national issue.

At the same time, he called for collective efforts from all in order to address the issue.

The steering committee chair then hailed UN partners for their tremendous support to the program even though it is a government project.

Also speaking at the MICAT Press briefing was the UN Resident Representative to Liberia Christine Umutoni who hailed the young people for being a great source of hope and the future of the country.

” The young people of Liberia are good and have made major contribution towards the peace process including elections processes in Liberia,” she noted.

However, she wants the At Risk Youth who composes of smaller portion of the larger youthful population to be taken care of.

According to her, it is key that such care be taken to avoid the endangering of the future of the country and its people.

It can be recalled that the GoL in 2019 began activities aimed at addressing the At Risk Youth issue but such progress got on a snail pace due to the COVID-19 crisis.

However, the government and its UN partners in 2021- 2022 made tremendous effort with the program and in June of this year, the GoL through President Weah officially launched the National At Risk Youth Fund Drive.

The program, under the direct supervision of the National At Risk Youth Steering Committee headed by Youth and Sports Minister, D. Zeogar Wilson along with other government ministries and UN system, worked and developed a joint concept document that is, among other things, being used by the committee to begin the gradual implementation of the project.

Meanwhile, Chairman Wilson encouraged the young people of Liberia to take advantage of the process in order to improve their lives and to make them better citizens for tomorrow, emphasizing that the process will not be a forceful one but rather done on a willing and voluntary basis.

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