Executive Director of Youth Action International (YAI), Kimmie Weeks who has worked to alleviate poverty and human suffering in Africa and around the world since he was fourteen years old, has boosted the Kroobay community by opening a $35,000 Centre for Women Empowerment.
At a Press briefing yesterday at YAI’s office at Peter Lane in Freetown, he said that, he was born in Liberia, in 1981 and at the young age of nine he came face to face with civil war, human suffering, and death.
Kimmie Weeks, who is in town from the United States to officially open the Centre for Women Empowerment said that, in each of the country where they are working we have different programmes, adding that in Sierra Leone, “we target women because they are way behind”.
He said that in their assessment study in Sierra Leone it was disclosed that women were the most vulnerable ones and so they want to make them become more useful in society.
Mr. Weeks disclosed that the centre targeted women in Kroobay community because he wants to improve their life and skills and make them self sustainable and also empower them to reach their full potential.
The YAI Director noted that they have other programs like scholarships, Democracy program, Workshops on Small Business Enterprise and health and sanitation programs for children and women.
The Kroobay project he said is for a long time and he expects this partnership to go on for a long period in other areas in the provinces, noting that by empowering women, they will also empower their families.
The centre, he said, will be offering tailoring, computing, hairdressing, basket making, necklace making among others and it is strictly for women in the Kroobay community.
The Executive Director pointed out that, items made at this centre will be marketed internationally.
He said that he is also looking at other areas such as affected women and youth, street children and juvenile.
Kimmie Weeks noted that, YAI’s Sierra Leone office maintains a Center for Women, which provides workshops on small business enterprise, counseling and loans to women living in slum areas in Sierra Leone.
Gregory Antonucci from Health Education and Relief (HEAR) Foundation based in the United States, said that he is partnering with Kimmie Weeks because the ideas that he has coincide with what Weeks is doing.
The Programme Officer of the Centre, Salamatu Ndolie said that, the centre will enroll 150 women at a start with the age limit of 15 to 30 years.
She added that the centre is focusing on women residing in the Kroobay community and that outsiders will not be accepted.
Kimmie has faced many obstacles in pursuit of his dream.
The biggest was when the Liberian government attempted to assassinate him for a report he issued on its involvement in the training of child soldiers.
As a result, Kimmie was forced to flee Liberia when he was seventeen and has since been granted political asylum in the United States.
Today, a graduate of Amherst College, Kimmie is working towards building a movement to positively change the face of Africa. His goal and emphasis focus on empowering the people, providing new opportunities, creating strategic development partnerships with Africa and the West, and using technology to link Africa with the rest of the world. Kimmie Weeks, once a ten year-old African war survivor and now acclaimed international youth activist, has won a 2007 Brick Award, which honors those who do something to change the world before they are 25 years old.
By Abibatu Kamara