Camp for Peace Liberia is a non-governmental, nonprofit and youth-focused organization which was founded in 2005. Its mission focuses on the promotion of the culture of dialogue, nonviolence, reconciliation, education and providing a space for young people to speak about issues affecting them and, as well, finding innovative solutions to the challenges facing Liberia and our world.
As we may all be aware of our nation’s dark past, having suffered two civil wars which claimed over 250,000 lives, injured thousands, and stunted development 16 years ago, the need to tie our plans, policies and conversations to tangible actions is vital.
Unfortunately, because a small number of young people carried out conflict-related violence during the Liberian civil war, many people have stereotyped the younger generation as violent, belligerent, and a threat to peace and stability.
In reality, young people can—and many do—play a remarkable role in building bridges between cultures and working toward a peaceful and inclusive society. However, under current conditions, over two-thirds of the country’s youth are uneducated, unskilled, and unemployed.
Therefore, to stop the resumption of violent conflict in Africa’s oldest republic, the unmet needs of the young generation must be prioritized. It is from this backdrop that Camp for Peace Liberia has been working to improve the lives of people.
Our programs are designed to help young people develop skills, knowledge, and the tools necessary for empowerment. The goal is for youth participation which will work to revitalize a stable and peaceful post-war Liberia. Some of of our current programs are described below.
This is a remarkable innovation which helps former child soldiers, ex-combatants and other war-affected youth to acquire technical and vocational skills. Sponsored by Camp for Peace, the participants are given access to loans upon graduation, which have assisted in enabling youth to become self-employed.
Since its inception in 2012, the program has benefited 500+ youth and some of the beneficiaries are presently engaged into bridge construction, agricultural activities, tailoring and other post conflicts development practices. Also, Camp for Peace Liberia has established a Cassava Processing and Packaging Plant which enables the program’s agricultural students to process cassava—Liberia’s second stable food next to rice—into different food products. These products are sold on the market, thereby funding and sustaining the program.
Unlike the WAY Program; we’ve been able to establish a vocational and technical school owned by Camp for Peace, which is focused on helping both war-affected and non-affected youth, with the aim of acquiring skills. It was established in 2018 and we’ve graduated one cohort so far, while the second is currently in progress.
The current conditions of Liberian youth present a grave threat to peace and stability and their vulnerabilities make them susceptible to engaging in violent and destructive activities. To avoid the resumption of violent conflicts, young people must be consistently engaged. The most vulnerable must be given behaviour change messages and taught conflict resolution techniques so as to become active in strengthening Liberia’s peace and reconstruction. Our Peace Education and Nonviolence Program recruits youth from diverse backgrounds including high schools, universities, and marginalized communities, training them to carry out peace activities in their schools, workplaces and communities. This program has inspired youth to continue pushing peacebuilding initiatives and propagating the “Youth, Peace and Security agenda” at local and regional levels. Youth must be supported, empowered and placed in the driver’s seat so as to drive the change they want to see.
Both the WAY Program and the Farmer Field Vocational and Technical School are designed to target mainly rural youth as our way of reaching out to all, regardless of regions or boundaries.
The institution is calling on all partners and supporters to support its milestone effort of peace and conflict resolution in developing and postwar Liberia.
Melchi-Zedek S.P. Dologbay is Youth Desk Coordinator at Camp for Peace Liberia.