Representatives from nine senior secondary schools in Freetown yesterday started a three-day campaign training and organization seminar organized by the Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) at the Grassroots Gender and Empowerment Movement (GGEM) Building at John Street.
The purpose of the seminar which is supported with grants from the International Association of Scientologists is to develop in youth leadership experience and life-long skills through teams competing to create, deliver and document effective public human rights awareness campaigns.
History has shown that building strong communities and nations human rights utterly depends upon strong, committed leadership e.g. Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi and it is against this backdrop that the programme was created to help reverse the descending spiral of poverty, illiteracy and war in Africa and assist in the construction of rejuvenated societies based on reason, honest opportunity and human rights.
YHRI’s Director of Sierra Leone Chapter, Alex Pratt who introduced the team of facilitators, explained that this is the third year of the project and noted the increase in the number of schools participation and added, “the more the merrier…”
YHRI International Director Timothy Bowlers aka Tim is an America Lawyer with over 30 years experience and has worked with YFHR for four years.
Tim explained that the structure of the three-day seminar stating that they would be looking at the purpose of YHRI, the results, tools for leadership and what leadership means.
He said at the end of the seminar “we will have an event with many people and your team will be competing for the best most effective HR campaign. At the end each team will have a video on that project,” adding “you will be trained on how to use a video to tell a story,” he said.
Tim also explained about the UDHR as a common standard of achievement for all people and nations every individual and every organ of society whether governmental, civil, educational etc shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms… and to secure their universal effective recognition and observance of the UDHR as adopted on December 10, 1948.
Three teams of selected secondary school students in each of the three participating countries i.e. Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana will form and train on leadership and activism skills and on human rights issues and solutions. By the close of this training each of the students will create a public awareness campaign on a chosen, major human rights abuse in the community, he explained.
Explaining why the participating countries are being targeted he said that violent brutalities of recent civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone have not only affected the populations of those nations but of the whole region e.g. tens of thousands of displaced Liberians are still trying to find way into Ghana and other West African countries.
It is up to the youth to translate the often-voice need for human rights into reality of actual social justice, he accentuated.