May 25, 2018

Camp for Peace graduates additional 28 students

Nancy on job
Nancy on job

"What would life be like for me as a woman if I have not had the opportunity to go to vocational school and acquire skills. How would my family including my mother, brothers and sisters be looked at in this community if I never had skills to work for my own money and support my family.  I am grateful to Camp for Peace Liberia and all the supports who have given me this opportunity to explore my God giving potentials.  I went in with nothing and I came up with something.  Today, I am one of the best local engineer in this county helping to rebuild houses, bridges and providing consultancy for other young people who are working in the construction field.  Many many thanks to Camp for Peace and sponsors" (Nancy).

During the period review, Camp for Peace Liberia enrolled and trained 28 vulnerable youths in vocational skills in general construction and agriculture. The training activities covered theoretical and practical as well as on-the-job. Small Enterprise Development (SED) training was taught at a very minimum level for all trainees in order to expose them to business establishment, management and record keeping. Fifteen (15) students completed studies in general construction which include masonry, carpentry and plumbing while 13 completed training in Agriculture. Of the total number of students, 11 were females and 19 males in the following age range: 9 students (19 – 24 years), 13 students (25 – 30) years and 8 students (31 – 36 years). The number of females was less than male participants due to the long distances students have to commute in getting from their communities to the training centre. Another reason probably was the cultural norms that affect female participation in most programs in rural communities including education and training.

The overall impact of the training has been very positive in creating change towards confidence and trust among participants and their families as well as the community members. Participants have acquired basic skills in agriculture and general building construction. These career areas remain very essential for economic growth and reconstruction in Liberia. You will note that Lofa County where the training is being conducted had a very good history of high productivity in producing rice which is Liberia’s staple food and other agricultural products. However, this history was distracted as a result of the civil war. With the help of the training, participants stand a better chance of exploring opportunity in food production and initiating self-help projects for self-sustainability and employment.

Several lessons can be learned from carrying out this project. Few among them are:

  • Communities that have strong vocational workforce are in a better position to avoid rising youth unemployment.
  • In order for vocational skills training to be successful, it requires the active participation and supports of all stakeholders including community leaders, business entrepreneurs, trade unions, government authorities and policymakers.
  • We learned that young people can easily be changed through the influence of their friends, especially when they see productive examples.
  • One of the best ways of reducing poverty among vulnerable youths is to acquire vocational skills that are locally relevance;
  • We also learned that young people can be respected if they have skills that are meaningful to the community.
  • We have learned that young people who are considered as threats and burdens to society can become assets if given the opportunity and support to acquire skills that would enable them contribute to the development of their society;
  • Building the capacities of vulnerable youths through vocational education is an effective approach of reducing community tension and improving dispute and reconciliation among community members in post conflict society;
  • Inclusive participation of youths in various development projects is key to ensuring the sustainability of peace and development in the country

Camp for Peace Liberia wishes to take this opportunity to express its deepest appreciation to GlobalGiving and all sponsors for their moral and financial support during the period under review:  

Jan 4, 2017

A major benchmark in the WAY project in Liberia

A youth agriculture farm in Zorzor
A youth agriculture farm in Zorzor

“I want to extend my thanks to CfP-Lbieria including all the donors and parters for giving our youth skills and knowledge to become better people for our society.  Had it not being your presence and support, our youth wouldn’thave reached this far.  Maybe we would be running again with our loads on our heads looking for places to take refuge.  But your support has brought us peace and stability because our youth are no long taking in drugs and alcohol that will make them hostile and violent.  Moreover, they are helping to build our houses and fixing our roads”(Yarkpawolo).

On Saturday, December 17, 30 War Marginalized Youths from across Liberia graduated from the Lutheran Vocational Training Institute in various local disciplines backed with psychosocial support in Salayea, Lofa County.

The ceremony was the conclusion of a nine month vocational training 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 students to help with their successful reintegration back into society.

Have the planned activities been completed? 

The project is an ongoing project, but some achievements have been made so far.  Former participants are currently being integrated into their communities with many of them engaged positively into personal ventures.  The ventures are paving smooth pathway for their reintegration.  Those engaged have demonstrated to their colleagues, families and the community that change is possible.   As a result of behavior change, the community is getting receptive to accept them again.  As two community members gave their impression about program participants during one of visits

What on-going support and follow-up was offered to participants? 

Site visitations, face-to-face interaction with participants, teachers and community members, telephone calls are different ways we have conducted follow-ups on the project beneficiaries and activities.  Follow-up is done on a routine basis (four times) and monitoring is an ongoing process.

Another community elder also shared her impression during one of our community visits:

“Thank God for all the donors, for giving our children opportunities to go to school and learn skills.  My son was a big drugs smokerand a notorious robber on the gold mine.  I never ever wanted to associate myself with him because of his behavior.  But with the change I have seeing in him since he returned from the school, I am happy that he can become my son again.  I am proud of him!”. (Yarmah)

In general, what has been the impact of the training on the lives of participants and their families and communities? 

Results so far have proven that participants/trainees are showing good posture for transformation.  Evident 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.

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.  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.

What evidence is there that communities of the participants have changed their perceptions of ex-combatants, and that participants are perceived as productive, peaceful members of the community?

Several evidences can be listed to measured the level of change in perception towards ex-combatants as productive and peaceful members of the community, but for briefness to this report, the following can be captured:

  • The number of success stories from community members and beneficiaries
  • The hiring of trainees (number of jobs) acquired and implemented by trainees in the community
  • The provision of a building to trainees by the local government also shows a milestone in the change of perception. (Please note that the local government has given trainees a three-room building to be used as a meeting hall where they can converge, plan and share their success stories with each other)
  • The involvement of trainees in community meetings and communion activities

What changes have been noted in the behaviors, attitudes, and skills of participants?

We have noted an increase in coping mechanisms and behaviors 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.

What has CfP- Liberia learned as a result of this project?

From the feedback we received from participants and the communities, it is possible to identify the following lessons learned:

1.  That building the capacities of youth (ex-combatants) through vocation is an effective approach of reducing community tension and improving dispute and reconciliation among community members in post conflict society;

2.  This year enrollment suggests that there is an increased awareness and acknowledgement of communities on the program to empower young people through vocational skills;

3.  That war affected youth have energies and this energies can be transformed into force for good if given the opportunities;

4.  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.

5.  Inclusive participation of war affected youth is key to ensuring the sustainability of peace and development in the county

6.  Recognizing and paying more attention to war affected youth (ex-combatants) enhances their strength and restores their hope for the future

This incredible progress has made many of our partners happy.  In one partner remarks, she said "  About three  years ago this beautiful soul, called on us to reach out for help and dream for financial backing for a program that he personally created to help War Affected Youth in Liberia through his organization, Camp for Peace.  Well here we are today with his program fully up and running and we thank God for the miracle".

Youth Agriculture farm
Youth Agriculture farm
Students lined up for graduation match
Students lined up for graduation match
Oct 11, 2016

Reaping the benefits of skills development!

A training participant receives supplies
A training participant receives supplies

"Today, I am a happy woman because of the skills I have acquired from Camp for Peace Liberia.  Years back people called me with all kinds of names.  Some called me rebel, others said I was good for nothing and they say I was useless. But today, they are calling me by my real name and consider me to be good for something.  At some point I felt I wasn't worth living and wanted to kill myself.  But I am thankful for Camp for Peace for giving me an edge to redirect my life.  As a result of the training acquired, I am able to make money to send my children to school and to assist my siblings.  I also want to thank all those who contributed their hard earned money to help me become what I am today." (Anonymous)

"I am glad that I was able to know you and to donate to your work.  I feel happy whenever one member of the human family gets satisfaction and able to realize their values as a human being and act according to those values.  My donation to your organization has not only helped in transforming someone life, but it has also added values to my personal life.  I hope to continue donating to your work as long as the means exist.  Thank you for all that you are doing to bring humanity to the world". (Anonymous)

Introduction

As Liberia tries to recover from a decade of civil madness that engulfed the motherland, there remain several challenges:  From rebuilding Liberia infrastructural to those issues that are misdirecting the young people today, from the causes, to a long-term solution. From the effect of the civil war, to the challenges that former combatants are faced with, from lack of educational support to societal breakdown, from societal rejection to the choice of life. The Ebola effects and the support needed for the survivals, politics and more.   Camp for peace Liberia with support from well-wishers and friends across the globe continue to provide the modest contributions in transforming lives.

Achievement

During the period under review, the following were accomplished:

  • 25 former graduates of the education for youth program received post training supports.  These supports were in the form of materials distribution which included sewing machines, generators, electrical supplies, wheelbarrows, cutlasses, shovels, digger, mechanical tools, etc.
  • Conducted three psychosocial workshops for both community leaders and students.  Topics covered self-esteem, forgiveness, reconciliation and acceptance.  30 participants including students and community members attended these training workshops
  • 15 mini enterprises established  by former graduates and students in Zorzor and Salayea Districts
  • 30 students provided mentorship and psychosocial support while acquiring their vocational training.

Conclusion

We want to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all our sponsors for their support.  We also want to thank those students for choosing the path of learning skills to become better people in society.

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