Past Adm. Ignored Plights Of War-Affected Youths…Local NGO Claims; Wants New Gov’t Help To Rehabilitate Victims
By Morrison O.G. Sayon
A local Non-governmental Organization, Courageous People Inc. has blamed the past administration of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for ignoring the plights of war-affected youths thus, leaving them to become drug users.
In an exclusive interview, Pastor Christiana Wilson, the Executive Director of Courageous People Inc. Liberia said due government’s failure to address the situation of the war victims, many of them have turned to drug users otherwise known as ‘Zogos’ who are liabilities posing threats to the society.
Pastor Wilson said some of the young people especially females have identified with prostitution, drug usage while others sleep on the streets for little as L$100 in Monrovia and other places whilst the government looked on.
Pastor Wilson said the plights of these Liberian youths led her to found the Courageous People Inc. Liberia that is working with over 2,000 war-affected youths who have become vulnerable as a result of the constant use of drugs something that is damaging their lives daily.
Pastor Wilson said in 2004 when she sensed the passion to help young Liberians who were returning from the bushes for disarmament, she then established the Courageous People to help in the rehabilitation of these affected vulnerable young people something the group succeeded in doing.
Rev. Wilson said Courageous People is working with drug victims a passion she developed since 2004 when she was working as Camp Manager under the Lutheran World Service during the UNMIL’s DDRRR Program.
“The Passion started increasing when I saw hundreds of young women leaving the bushes, giving their arms and hearing their stories which brought tears to me, even though I was managing the camp, but the women’s stories got to me how they got traumatized, how they were raped really touched me. The young men who were in arms who took drugs and were called small soldiers were the affected youths during the war,” Pastor Wilson disclosed.
Pastor Wilson said she was motivated by the plights of these young Liberians something that caused her to establish the Courageous People Inc. Liberia to help in the rehabilitation of some of the war-affected youths at the time. She said Courageous People is now working with over 2,000 youths in various communities in the country.
“What we do right now is to take care of these affected youths by cutting their hairs, taking them for prayer, encourage and other means by which we can help them rehabilitated into the society. We are hoping to put out the first dormitory up to shelter for over 250 vulnerable girls before starting with the boys,” she added.
Pastor Wilson disclosed that many of the youths are tired with the streets, but no one cares for their plights. She said her group has spoken to authorities of the Liberia National Police and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and they are aware of the situation but have not shown any interest in addressing the plights of these vulnerable Liberian youths.
She added that the past administration of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf did not show any passion in addressing the situation facing the youths despite being aware of their plights. “We are soliciting support for the construction of the dormitory for these war victims,” she added.
According to Pastor Wilson, the center will be constructed for women who are on drugs, prostitutes and other girls who usually sleep on the streets who have been counseled by Courageous People for the past three years. Pastor Wilson added that the most vulnerable youths mainly females are those who will be at the center. She said 34 of the war-affected people including eight females have already been rehabilitated and have returned to their families.
The Clergywoman called on the George M. Weah administration to show passion in addressing the plights of the affected youths by collaborating with Courageous People Inc. Liberia. She added that her only regret is for President Weah to have forgotten to mention the wayward children in his State-of-the-Nation address though they were the ones who voted for him in their numbers during the elections.
“This is about the government of Liberia but we have met several stakeholders in addressing the situation of these affected youths but to no avail. I hope that this new government will show passion because there has been no program from the DDRRR since the end of disarmament program, no rehabilitation program thus, leaving thousands of youths on the streets who have become drug users,” Madam Wilson lamented.
Pastor Wilson, among other things, called on President Weah to take interest in addressing the plights of the affected young people of Liberia by assisting Courageous People Inc. in supporting its programs for them.