Below is a full version of CfP 2016 annual report that highlights various activities, achievements and challenges. PDF version of this report can also be found at http://campforpeace.org/reports/
Liberia is making substantial progress in political, economic, social and democratic governance since the end of the civil war in 2003. Yet still, the current context of youth situation in Liberia presents a serious threat to peace and stability. Because of the high level of unemployment, the majority of young people in Liberia exhibit low levels of self-esteem and feel generally powerless; this exposes them to the risk of engaging in violent behavior which in turn may lead to instability in their communities and Liberia as a whole. The empowerment of youth to pave way for their smooth reintegration, deal effectively with conflict and ready for employment are vital ingredients for sustainable peace and security.
During the period under review, 55 youth enrolled and successfully graduated in various vocational disciplines from the Bowker Washington Institute in Kakata Margibi County and the Lutheran Vocational Training Institute in Salayea, Lofa County. This program especially aimed at providing residential vocational skills Training opportunity to war affected youth in the country to improve their socio-economic status for job opportunities and livelihood sustainability. The training also provided psychosocial support to help with their successful reintegration back into society.
During the training, equal opportunity was provided with 25 females and 30 males participating. Special attention was given to females and those with disabilities to enable them complete with their males’ counterparts and peers. About 50% of those who participated were between the age of 22-28 years, while 25% constituted the age range of 29-30 years and 25% was mostly 33 – 35 years.
Results so far have proven that participants/trainees are showing good posture for transformation. Evidence of transformation is based on their involvement in various communities’ activities and the success stories from the community dwellers.
As a result of the training, participants are gradually rediscovering their values, knowing that their energies and the skills acquired can be utilized as force for good. Their self-esteem has been enhanced to undertake self-initiative. They are now utilizing their skills to get job that can earn them money to support their families. Their perception of self-worthlessness and hopelessness has changed into positive thinking. Most of them are now demonstrating to friends and communities through their actions that change is possible. Through the counseling and other follow-up activities, trainees have developed a better understanding of how to control their emotion whenever faced with challenges and constraints.
As a result of the training, community violence is becoming minimized; and negative perception towards trainees is gradually reducing. A tile of friendship and receptiveness among trainees, their family members and the communities are getting stronger once again and reconciliation is rapidly taking place. The communities can now boast of technicians with locally driven expertise in construction, mechanical and agricultural production.
Together with our partners, CfP Liberia believe that young people can play an important role in promoting peace for future generations but in the current context of Liberia, youth tend to be excluded from policy planning and decision making. More so, since the end of Liberia’s brutal civil war in 2003, there have not been a well-developed platform to enable youth adequately participate in decision making and leadership as well as training opportunities to equip them with different skills that would lead to employment opportunities. Young Liberians – who constitute well over 75% of the population – have incredible energy but often feel disenfranchised and excluded from ideas and opportunities. Liberia is now entering in to a critical period of its post-conflict history in which it is essential that young citizens have the skills, tools and communities they need to leverage change and build the Liberia they would like to live in, going forwards.
CfP Liberia has been working in different communities across Liberia and with different youth groups that were torn apart by the war. CfP Liberia has also been working with students, youth organizations, physically challenge through interactive dialogues, forums, campaigns, seminars, training workshops and recreation programs—teaching them to solve problems peacefully. Through these activities, participants learn how to intervene and to resolve personal, school, community, and national conflicts. The acquisition of skills for development and healing are crucial to psycho-social approach and consequently the reconciliation process. Meeting the psycho-social needs for a whole functional society is paramount for peace, reconciliation, healing and development.
During the period under review, CfP Liberia conducted and facilitated a total of 36 awareness, peer medication, capacity building and training of trainers’ workshops, consultations as well as facilitations, presentations, awareness campaigns, reconciliation dialogues and peace education forums for 954 youth, in Montserrado, Margibi, Bong and Lofa Counties. Of these, 406 were females which constitute 43% while 548 were males, which is 57%.
During the period under review, the following activities were carried out.
WAR AFFECTED YOUTH REHABILITATION PROGRAM (WAY)
During the year under review, 2016, Camp for Peace Liberia in collaboration with the Steel Workers Humanity Fund entered into a cooperative agreement to run a phase two of vocational and rehabilitation program aimed at empowering vulnerable youth of Liberia, especially the physically challenge and former child soldiers and ex-combatants.
The cost of local products such as cassava, eddoes, potatoes, peppers, etc. are getting relatively cheap in some communities as a result of trainees involvement in agriculture and food production. We have noted an increase in coping mechanism and positive behavior pattern which are useful in all aspects of life, e.g., goal setting, problem solving, self-awareness, self-confidence, interpersonal skill development, becoming more self-sufficient, etc.
These changes are evident by the reduced number of violence and robberies in the community as well as the number of building constructed by participants and number of praises and success stories and testimonies received and the different enterprises established by trainees in the communities.
As result of this program, CfP Liberia have learned the following lessons
- That building the capacities of youth, especially vulnerable including ex-combatants, physically challenged and out-of-school youth through vocation is an effective approach of reducing community tension and improving dispute and reconciliation among community members in post conflict society;
- That war affected youth have energies and these energies can be transformed into force for good if given the opportunities;
- That war affected young, if properly guided, care for and loved with the necessary support to acquired knowledge and skills; they can serve as the cradles of sustainable peace and development in Liberia.
- Inclusive participation of war affected youth is essential to ensuring the sustainability of peace and development in the County
- Recognizing and paying more attention to war affected youth (ex-combatants) enhances their strength and restores their hope for the future
NON VIOLENCE AND PEACE EDUCATION PROGRAM
During the period under review, a total of twelve (12) capacity building workshops and seminars, on peace building, reconciliation, trauma healing, human rights and good governance were implemented for youth and student groups. These activities were geared towards building trust, re-establishing and consolidating relationships between communities youth groups who have been in conflict by bringing them together and promoting dialogue on areas of common interest. These activities were intended to promote reconciliation and unity among communities. Further, the training provided an interactive opportunity and space for youth from diverse background for the exchange of ideas and for them to share their experiences. The workshops and interventions were also crucial in helping youth to analyze and explore their problems and find alternative solutions to violence through dialogue, non-violent communication and mediation. The knowledge and skills acquired from the trainings have empowered young people to facilitate community forums and dialogue sessions for the rebuilding of inter-ethnic relationships and the promotion of integration. The training also strengthened youths’ conflict management capacities to manage and resolve conflicts in their schools and communities using non-violent means such as dialogue, non-violent communication and mediation.
Participants were also sensitized on hygiene practices to prevent transmission of the Ebola Virus Disease and empowered with knowledge on how to cope with their traumatic conditions. Participants were given an opportunity in smaller groups to make a larger contribution and to discuss in depth potential emotional responses. A range of topics including Community-based Psycho-Social support, trauma Awareness, conflict resolution, methods of third party interventions, peace building, loss and grief, handling emotions and stress management were explored during the workshops.
Also through the Peer Mediation Committees (PMCs), trainees are engaged in peace forums and outreach campaigns using placards and posters with messages of peace and reconciliation. The PMCs through its drama groups, also periodically dramatized peaceful conflict resolution processes and spread information about peace and reconciliation in their communities.
The Peer Mediation Committees also engaged in outreach awareness campaigns to combat inter-ethnic discrimination in the communities, engaged in Radio talk shows to encourage broader dialogue and promote peace messages, and engaged in sensitizations and educational campaigns on violence extremism and gender based violence issues. The PMCs are comprised of youth leaders, students’ leaders, traditional and religious youth members of their communities who are identified and selected by members of the communities. A total of 489 persons directly benefited from these training workshops and Peace Mediation Committees’ initiatives. Of this number, 228 were females and 261 were males.
During the period under review, Two (2) Training of Trainers’ workshop was conducted with students leaders in Bong County. The training focused on peace building, conflict analysis, methods of third party interventions, mediation, facilitation, human rights, stress management, working with trauma and project management aimed to empower participants with practical skills in conflict resolution in a more creative way.
The training also equipped participants with basic set of skills in the fields of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) prevention and treatment using methods such as peer support and group therapy as well as practical tools in stress management techniques. The participants were involved in lectures, inter-active discussions, group works as well as simulation exercises. A total of 50 persons directly benefited from these TOT workshops. Of this number 23 were females, while 27 were males.
INTER RELIGIOUS DIALOGUES
During the period under review three inter-religious workshops was held in Salala, Gbarnga and Zorzor. The workshop brought together youth leaders from both Muslim and Christian communities for dialogue and the promotion of religious coexistence and tolerance among the different religious youth groups. These sessions were also intended to create space for youth to vent out their pains, concerns and improve relationships and encourage dialogue for peaceful coexistence and harmony in their communities.
These workshops and interventions also provided opportunities for the beneficiaries to acquire knowledge and useful practical skills to enable them transfer their knowledge and skills to others so as to have a multiplier effect. A total of 120 persons directly benefited from the workshop. Of this number 50 were females, while 70 were males.
various youth groups in Liberia. The concept of the CfP Peace Camp is to bring together young people and youth organizations from opposing sides in Liberia to take part in dialogue and conflict transformation activities. The activities were based on human rights education and intercultural learning and designed to provide the young people with a positive experience in living and learning together.
The Peace Camp also provides a safe space for young people from different ethnic, religious and political background to learn together about conflict, to share their experiences with other young people and to build their capacity to engage and develop future conflict transformation initiatives. 240 youth from various youth organizations in nine political sub-divisions of Liberia benefited from the Peace Camp Program. Of this number, 80 were females while 160 were males.
NETWORKING & COLLABORATIVE INITIATIVES
Coordination, collaboration and networking is one of the strategic approaches of CfP Liberia to implement activities at local and national level. Through different meetings, consultation and collaboration activities, we expand our network amongst Government and National/International non-government entities.
During the period under review, CfP networked and collaborated with several youth organizations including Margibi Youth Secretariat, Youth in Peace building and Development, Early Warning and Early Response Working Group of the Liberia, Peace Building Office, Young Men Christian Association and Firestone Agriculture Workers Union of Liberia, The purpose of these networking meetings was to share experiences, exchange ideas and explore possibilities for cooperation and partnership.
MONITORING AND EVALUATION
During the period under review, assessment visits were made in Montserrado, Margibi, Bong and Counties where CfP Liberia currently operates. The overall objective of these visits was to identify progress; challenges gaps faced CfP Liberia in carrying out her work. These visits also helped CfP Liberia to identify available local youth groups that carrying out similar work for the purpose of networking and collaboration.
STAFF CAPACITY BUILDING TRAINING
- Philip S. Quoqui, participated in a two-day Workshop held on March 19-20, 2016 in Monrovia. The workshop was intended to train Early Warning Group members in internet technology service in order for them to improve on their reporting system.
- Clarence Zowah also participated Trauma Healing workshop conducted by the Trauma Healing Institute in collaboration with ELWA Hospital. The workshop aimed to equip/train candidates to explore their own trauma and learn basic bibilical passages in dealing with personal trauma.
- Patience Butler, graduated from the Liberia Institute of Public Administration (LIPA) with a certificate in monitoring and Evaluation. The course is designed to equip participants with the requisite knowledge, skills, and attitudes for monitoring and evaluating programs and projects.
- Abel Learwellie and Youku Kollie participated in the Stress Management workshop organized by YMCA. The workshop aims to provide participants with the skills and techniques in recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress and develop coping skills:
- INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL
- Philip S. Quoqui participated in a four month international fellowship program as Alternative to Violence Fellow in Kigali, Rwanda. The fellowship provided participants with skills to deal with potentially violent situations in Africa. During the fellowship, fellow used the opportunity to revise and design curricula to include peer mediation, youth resilience, self-esteem, empowerment and traditional reconciliation models for Africa Youth experiencing high levels of marginalization and violence
- Youku Kollie also participated in youth exchange program in South Africa at the Institute of Healing and Memories from September – October 2016. The youth exchange aims to assist youth to benefit with first-hand experience to different approaches and methods used by IHOM. Knowledge and skills developed as a result of this exchange will be implemented in the daily work of Camp for Peace Liberia.
- B, Abel Learwellie was invited by the American Camp Association to attend Educational and Cultural Program from February 6 – 12, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. During the training B. Abel Learwellie acquire various skills in conflict resolution, group dynamic, camp administration, etc.
CfP Liberia management and staff appreciate the level of support they continue to receive from all partners for their continuous financial support. We are also thankful to Dr. Lois Kunkel, Agnes Struik , Ann and John Backe for their support towards our Peer Medication Program. We are most grateful to the International Camping Fellowship its moral support as well as all CfP staff, volunteers and members of the Board of Directors and all those who are voluntarily participating in our programs and activities at various levels.
As we endeavor to continuously engage our fellow young people in developing new methods of approach to issues that tend to divide Liberians, CfP Liberia will solely rely on your concerted support to enhance its work aimed empowering, transforming and engaging young people through democratic participation for sustainable peace and development in Liberia.
Compiled by: __________________
Clarence Z. Zowah
Program Officer /CfP Liberia
Submitted by: ____________________