A delegation from the Young Leaders United Kingdom (YLSL-UK) branch and a member of the Sierra Leone High Commission, have paid a visit to the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair at his 9 Grosvenor Square, London.
The aim of the visit was to present an ‘Icon Award’ to Tony Blair for his remarkable contribution and his country’s support in restoring peace to Sierra Leone.
The short visit also focuses on establishing a working relationship between Young Leaders and the office of Blair and also to create a mutual partnership with YLSL in support of its vision of youth development in Sierra Leone.
Tony Blair revealed that he was keen to know about the work of YLSL and how Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora could help to bring change in their country. ‘’Are you all going back to Sierra Leone to serve your country’’ Blair wasted no time to ask.
Responding, Ival Cummings-John, YLSL-UK branch Chairperson explained the work of her organization and its achievement since it was formally launched in Sierra Leone by the former Vice President. She informed Blair that YLSL was formed by some patriotic Sierra Leonean youth leaders at home and in the Diaspora with particular reference to the UK, Holland and USA branch. She pointed out that YLSL was formed mainly to promote the growing recognition of the importance of youth engagement in state planning. She then briefed the former Prime Minister on current projects of YLSL; amongst them the just concluded Sierra Leone Youth Empowerment Conference USA (SLYEC-USA) and the upcoming Youth Empowerment Conference-UK and Sierra Leone. The SLYEC-USA/UK/SL would create a platform which would bring more than 600 youth leaders with the aim of harnessing collective action for youth development.
Presenting the ‘Icon Award’ to Tony Blair, YLSL founder and CEO Abubakarr Messeh Kamara urged him to do more for Sierra Leone. “Now we want a u-turn; our country must move from being a donor-driven nation to that of a fully independent state, empowered and capable of running it own affairs” Kamara appealed.
The CEO implored Tony Blair to use his good office as an informal Ambassador and Adviser to the government and the youth of Sierra Leone. “Young People have a major role to play in the governance of the country; it is about time we are seen as partners in contributing to our nation’s vision’ he said.
The Youth Village Project proposal was also presented to the former Prime Minister; and this project is expected to provide residences, conference centers, multi-purpose agricultural site, children’s playground/funfair, youth hostels, Library and ICT outfit, children’s hospital, design & arts production, a radio station, workspaces and a mini-stadium.
Responding, Blair expressed support for the project and promised to send some of his staff to assist the Government of Sierra Leone.
He congratulated the young people of Sierra Leone and expressed admiration for the work of YLSL.