In its effort to consolidate the hard-won peace in Sierra Leone, Hon. Nuru Deen Sankoh Yillah, members of the Youth Commission and a team of officials from the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) has launched School Peace Clubs and Anti violence Campaign groups in 16 secondary schools in the Western Area.
The ceremony was held in an elaborate forum; jam-packed with school pupils from the target secondary schools and youths from Fire Stone and Banana Water in the Western Area at the National Stadium Swimming Pool Brookfields in Freetown.
The essence of YMCA’s stride to establish school peace clubs and Anti Violence campaign is encapsulated in the fact that over the years, there has been massive prevalence of violence in almost every activity that involves youth and school pupils in the country. The result of these anti social behaviours has yielded psycho-social development of the youth in Sierra Leone.
The project initiated by YMCA through Y-CARE and Comic Relief is geared towards mobilizing the youth population in vulnerable areas and schools and engage them in peace building activities and conflict management skills to ensure their livelihood and societal development in their respective communities.
Hon. Deen Sankoh Yillah in his remarks on the launch of the project admonished the mammoth gathering of youths to eschew the act of violence considering the fact that they are the future leaders of this nation. He opined that the youths should act as role models for future generation to emulate and therefore should imbibe the culture of peace, sanity and morality.
The President of the National Youth Coalition Ishmail Al Sankoh Conteh said that the Youth Coalition has been working with the YMCA to see how best they would work with communities and school children to promote the culture of peace and non-violence in their respective environments. He maintained that the project facilitated by YMCA is to empower the youths in preaching peace messages, formation of alliance among school pupils from various school, especially during their school activities where violent actions are mostly ignited.
The Western Area Project Officer of YMCA’s Supporting Youth Livelihood and governance in Sierra Leone Abu Bakarr Bakley Sesay said that the peace and anti-violence clubs established by YMCA came out of the institution’s burning desire to maintain peace and tranquility in post conflict Sierra Leone, especially when electioneering process is fast approaching. He reiterated that elections in Sierra Leone are mostly marred by violence perpetuated by the youths because of the minute knowledge of their roles and responsibilities in democratic governance, and as such the training, which is going to be a continuous process, will help shape the minds of the youth in order to achieve a better society.
Mr. Sesay further went on to say that creating the peace clubs in various schools in the Western Area is behind the concept of “catch them when they are young” as a result of the fact that each pupil represents a community and his or her achievement during the training will impact on the lives of the people in the communities they represent.
One of the beneficiaries of the school clubs project, a student of Collegiate School, appreciated the effort and initiative of the YMCA for establishing such a programme that is set to teach them acceptable principles and moral values for the development of their minds and the society as a whole.
By Poindexter Sama