Twenty five youths appointed by ActionAid from all over Sierra Leone yesterday departed for a one-week campaign across the country to address hunger.
They left the ActionAid Western Area Office at Kissy Dock Yard in Freetown, with the campaign “Angri for tap NOW!” (Hunger must stop NOW!)
ActionAid, a British nongovernmental organization which focuses on international development, selected three people aged between 18 and 35 years from each of seven developmental district to form a motivated group of ‘Activistas’ who will travel cross-country to educate the public and gather information to ultimately report to the government.
In addition to the 21 youths from these districts, four additional youths from various organizations were added to the team.
The youths were nominated by their community peers, then put through a rigorous training period, during which they were educated on hunger and food accessibilities. They were given time to interact with each other so they could learn to feed off one another in achieving community awareness about hunger.
ActionAid’s Policy, Research and Advocacy Manager, Thomas Johnny, addressed the young team with a final message as they prepared for their campaign.
“You are embarking on this venture with one focus: A hunger-free Sierra Leone,” he said, firmly. “Please stay focused. This is not a campaign, it’s about human rights. Access to food is a fundamental human right, and ActionAid wants government to live up to their promises.”
Johnny was adamant in noting that 70 percent of Sierra Leoneans live in poverty and 26 percent of them go to bed hungry.
“For a country that is said to be wealthy in mineral resources, that is unacceptable,” he said.
Many Activistas, including Florence Cadi Lassay of Moyamba, were highly motivated to partake in the campaign because they themselves know the effects of starvation in the country.
“I wanted to do this, because I’m also affected,” Lassay said. “In Moyamba, I produce radio programs for women, so when someone from the organization called to nominate me for this venture, I jumped right on it.”
Abdul Kamara-Kargbo of Kono, another Activista, said it’s important that ActionAid specifically targeted youths to spearhead this project.
“Development in this country starts with the youth,” he said. “In order to get youths engaged, we need to use youths.”
Peter Beckley, the Head of Communications for ActionAid, reminded the youths of their two main objectives. He urged them to not only address the access to but control of land for women; and to ask transnational corporation to come through on their corporate responsibilities. Beckley is traveling with the Activistas on their weeklong tour.
The youths boarded a bus yesterday and will spend one day each in the seven districts from which they were selected, starting in Kambia, in the north. From Kambia, they will travel to Bombali, Tonkolili, Kono, Bo and Moyamba, in that order, before returning to Freetown next Monday.
Upon their return, the ActionAid youths will formulate a final report, on their campaign.
By Yu Nakayama