IVD 2012 in Liberia was BOOM! It commenced a week earlier with training of selected High School and University students on volunteerism and leadership skills, in Kakata in the Margidb County. Other activities such as clean-up campaigns, public education and official IVD ceremonies took place in Harper in the Maryland County and Monrovia. Activities were carried out with several partners including the University of Liberia Volunteer Movement, Tubman University Volunteer Movement, Monrovia City Corporation, Coca Cola Company Limited and CSOs partner, among others.
The official ceremony was graced by government, UN and UNV HQ officials, as well as CSOs leaders. In all, about 1800 people took part in the various activities under the local slogan "Ha Dea" - Offer yourself for service!
Celebration narrative and partners (pdf, opens in new window)
Images from the celebrations (pdf, opens in new window)
This year we are focusing on community led volunteering initiatives that the community in Harper have embraced.
We are starting from a local saying "Ha Dea" translated to "Offer yourself for service. " equating volunteerism = service
In sum the series of activities include:
1. A community volunteer Service Day (CVSD) on the 28th where the whole community will come out to clean Harper (or as they say to brighten Harper). the 29th is Tubman's birthday (ex Pres some time ago) which is a big ceremony as he comes from Harper. the clean up campaign will include a pedestrian awareness raising . We will be painting 5 z-bra crossings in strategic areas of the city of Harper.
2. On the 29th there is a local women's NGO called the Millennium women's association. They are involved in using their own resources to buy coconut seedlings and plant them in a part of Harper where the land is falling into the sea. We will be mobilizing the community and the students to offer their service to help in planting the seedlings at the same time getting awareness on environment and the importance of coastal systems. planting coconut seedlings
3. There will be a workshop for Students ans CSO representatives covering issues of advocacy and volunteering, leadership, and Service learning.
4. On the 3rd of December there will be a parade celebrating volunteerism and volunteers. The parade will end in the stadium where different CSOs, UN agencies, University students, the peace keepers, UNMIL will do information sharing about their 'Ha Dea" activities. We hope this will be the start of a community information sharing where different organizations doing Ha Dea share their stories and mobilize citizens to join their initiatives.
5. The 5th of December will be celebrated in Monrovia at the University of Liberia where the speeches will be read and we hope to bring representatives from Harper to tell their stories. Put the talk to the walk.
6. On 5th of December we are also organising a clean-up and hygiene education campaign in the 12th Street Community, in collaboration with the University of Liberia Volunteer Movement (ULVM), the leaders and members of the Youth Group and the Monrovia City Corporation. The cLean-up starts in the morning at about 7.00 am till 12.00 noon, followed by few speeches and educational campaigns and friendly sporting activities (football and Kickball) in the afternoon.
7. On 5th December, there will be an Official ceremony at the University of Liberia Auditorium, where the statements will be made by key government and civil society partners and the statement of the UN SG, UNDP Administrator and the UNV Executive Co-ordinator will be read.
My name is Samuel T. Sherman, Jr. I’m studying criminal justice at Howard Community College, after which I intend to matriculate to a four year University to study International Conflict Resolution. I am the founder and Executive director of the “ Johnny Mad Dog Foundation.” A personal initiative, volunteering for child soldiers in Africa. This foundation was created in 2007 after a shooting of a feature film “ Johnny Mad Dog, (www.johnnymaddog.film.com ),” a film base on a story writing by a Congolese writer Emmanuel Dongala, base on his experience in the Congolese crisis. A French film director ( Jean-Stephane Sauvaire), adopted this story and shot the film in Liberia with real victimized children of war ( Child soldiers). I worked as assistant director to Jean-Stephane on this project working with many ex-CAFF ( Ex-Children Associated with Fighting Forces) in the sub regional west Africa ( Liberia, Sierra Leon and Ivory Coast).
Our program is to work with youth in Africa, focusing for the moment on young Liberians, victims of 14 years of civil war with the development of Education and daily life skills. The program aims to help participants develop achievable personal developmental goal. Education can be a crucial component of rehabilitation and reintegration into society for children once recruited to fight who have not had the opportunity to educate them selves.
Base on these voluntary services and dedication to my cause, I was offered a scholarship opportunity by Dr. Kathy Rokefeller, director of the Mediation and Conflict Resolution Center (MCRC), Howard county, Maryland. After my studies and training in basic “Mediation and Conflict Resolution,” a division of the Maryland judiciary; I am certified and licensed as a Mediator, doing voluntary community conflict mediation resolution for the state of Maryland, in Howard County since 2011. I want to use these skills abroad in post-conflict zones. With my background in Liberia, I personally want to use this mediation and experience in peace keeping to help people in war affected areas, especially in post-conflict areas to heal. Hundreds of thousands of kids were affected by the war in Liberia, some have fled, some are still in Liberia, and many of them are just not accounted for. People are still marginalized and not getting the support they need. There are kids in graves there that we don’t know who they are, kids who are alive there tell me they have no parents, no home, no support. When I go back there they say please get international attention for us. Base on these many but few mentioned factors, I have decided to volunteer for ex-child soldiers globally. I have been working with universities, colleges, the United Nations, advocate institutions, European Union, and at the U.S. Congressional level collaborating with “ Child Soldier Relief Foundation,” a non-profit here in Washington D.C discussing these ill’s in society. As part of the sustainable development goal, a component of the Millenium Development Goal ( MDG ). We focus on the prominent social issues which have more to do with the “Justice Initiative,” the forceful recruiting of teen aged boy’s and girls as “Child soldier .“
There is an estimate of over 350,000 plus children affected by these conflicts and there is an urgent need to address these issues through awareness program, one such like this international volunteer participation initiative and at many symposiums serving as a conduit, a medium through the voice of the voiceless can be heard. Children are the future resource and need to have the basic and fundamental rights to life, education and family. Instead, they are being used to fight wars against their will. If we are working towards a “ sustainable development,” we’ve got to look critically at these ills in our society today.
I have improve education and livelihood through cleaning the University of Liberia campus compound on a daily basis. This excercise claims the attention of the UL President, staffs and students of the institution and which some students joining us, we called the group University of Liberia volunteer Movement (ULVM). Though the school has staffs who are responsible to do that job but they are mainly older people whom most often seen resting looking tired and weak,we created trash cans at all area of the campus. The excercise makes the campus look tidy at all time. Also, I volunteered at International relief and Development (IRD)Liberia an NGO involved in Relief and development of school age children, Food For Education (FFE) program etc. This program help children who does not want to go to school change and began going to school because of Food provided at schools and those students with malnutriution began recieving nutriutional foods to maitain a livelyhood. It was a good experience. Thanks.
My Volunteer here experience here has to do what we call improving Education in the ignorant environments & communities.
My Campaign here is to contemplate work on issues that will help us to facilitate the educational ideas in the ignorant Communities around the Glob so as to eliminate the illiteracy rate.
Because, if the idea of Education is strengthened accordingly, then, we will experience that the human resource capacities of the various ignorant environments and communities around the globe will be improving significantly and socially as well. When this work is done positively, you will see peoples in the environments and communities to be compared to each others around the globe despite living in diverse continents with diverse cultures and traditions. This will take place as a result of the hard work done by we the volunteer workers of UN. Therefore, is very much essential to encourage one another on such profiteering Job as UN Volunteer workers.
This is why i always embark on issues concerning educations in our local communities, mainly in Monrovia, Liberia. I encourage friends who are already reluctant of their own future benefits (Education).
To conclude, since Education is the Key of the world right now, let us embark and strengthen the idea of eradicating ignorance from our environments and communities by encouraging the young girls and boy who feel to themselves that they can no longer make it in life. Let's talk and bring them back to the light of educations so as be beneficiaries to their environments and communities.
Thank you very much Colleagues for your Volunteer and Energetic Campaigns around the world under the umbrella and protections of The World greatest organization(UN).
I am Sheick Sualiho Ousmane Kenneh,
Student of Civil Engineer at the university of Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia.
NB: Am deeply sorry for the procrastination. Is due to not having enough access to computer or inter-net service in my community.
Protection of wild life …….by Garlapaty Sitharamaiah, UNVI, Hyderabad, India
My second UNV journey from April to November 2005 for the presidential elections in Liberia started as Electoral Support Officer for Sinoe county in it s headquarters Greenville.
Greenville…is really green everywhere with good flora and fauna. The people have education centers, health centers, and good football courts but what they lack? Is it food…….. No is my answer. They have Vegetables…not abundance and If talking about rice not much needed as Cassava (a type of root of plants are there)just like potato for them. They can work hard with abundant land and water resource but no formal ideas about a systematic and organized cultivation and farming activities like mango/orange groves. This happened to rubber plantation and gold/diamond querying. Thus leads to smuggling and later it became chronic and leads to civil war.
As ESO even though my prime activity is election but in the process I have ample of opportunity to observe their way of life and want to know certain bad elements which they can give up without Losing anything except for their luxury taste and hunting. Somehow my concentration has gone to a barbaric activity of eating monkeys that to very big monkeys which are cute creatures of god and are in the line of extinction? In the beginning I didn’t notice but one day I went for the monitoring of elections with my county National officials to a village called Voogbardee a remote place. When I returned I saw a dead monkey at the back of my Nissan .I enquired and stunned after they told that it is sweetest food for them that too for my counterparts?
This gave me ample opportunity as I first thoroughly counseled my team consists of national election workers not only they should do the election work but also whenever they find time in campaign they should at least allot one hour to council the people about the richness of the SAPO Park and protection of wild animals. I even stunned that The SAPO national park which is exactly situated in my allotted districts for elections. It was named after a local tribe called SAPO. It is highest mammal species diversity of any region in the world. During the Liberian Civil War, SAPO National Park fell into the hands of rebel forces, and much of the park's infrastructure and equipment was damaged or destroyed. With the help of CAO I located the spot and tried to counsel them for the wild life protection includes killing of monkeys and snakes. Even I talked to some of the wild life protection officials about this and requested them to ask for any help monetarily(to send any team or persons who can be trained for counsel the people for wildlife protection) and for any advise with CAO whether they can allot some small amount in the account of Quick impact projects .
I shocked to see selling monkey and big snake publicly like bananas. I saw a baby monkey which was tighten to a bench for sale. When I tried to give a banana it did not take, instead with a lot of fear it went back to the bench to hide herself for being killed for food. I really felt very sad as I have seen the fear in her eyes and her heart beat. I somehow managed to buy it for 15 dollars and let her in near forest. Then I thought it is just not this action makes them change but a constant counseling made them realize not to harm the monkeys. It worked. A parrot can speak if you go on speaking at her………a lion can be danced if the trainer is capable and why not human? My attempt to mingle with people with the help of my dynamic counterpart Ceaser made it possible to convince the people about what exactly I want. I have discussed this matter with our mission colleagues also.
We cannot change anything immediately it requires time and constant effort. After all what about slavery in history? How many years and how much sacrifices it took to have a change. A good listener will be good communicator. One can cut a diamond with a diamond only. If one listener will be satisfied sure it will spread like wild fire.
Whenever I saw a monkey stretching its hands to have a coconut or banana in the temple my mind will take a flight to Greenville via Monrovia to the rich and lush green forests to see the baby monkey and its fear for life. Always my sympathy and affection towards lush green forests and enjoyment of watching very rare live things like running of chimpanzee across the roads with big sounds forced me to take up this task of protecting the wild life to give a small message to the future generations.
With UNV at Kosovo, I was surprised to work in a very cold country. While I took off the plane, the hail came down, I felt shaking and pain in my ears. At night, I asked the landlord to take me buying a coat at a shop to use, unfortunately it was a big and long ones which is not fit to me, but I have to take it.
During registration period, people were eager to come to registration center for their Identity Card and for the election. Day to day, registration team received many people and moving from place to place for the convenience.
At Liberia, during the election date, I did not take any rest nor sleeping for the whole day and night with my counterpart and all electoral staffs in order to make sure that the ballot papers are in the ballot boxes and sealed correctly before taking them to the Tally Center. People came to wait in front of the polling center since the dawn before the poll was started.
At East Timor, in voter education period, I and my team went to a remote area on the top of the mountain and use the loud speaker to call people for the information of election. I climbed up a tree to shout for gathering people who resided up and down of the mount. Some places, I have to drive crossing the flowing river following the step of my team who walked in the water up to their waist.
At Sudan (Southern Sudan), voter education took a long time to conduct workshop, seminar, training, meeting, conference at NGO center, Government hall, community field, church and mosque area, under the tree and tukul of people.
Posters, leaflets, stickers, banners, shirts, caps, bags, rubber bands, skirts and flip charts were distributed during dissemination for people to understand and feel free to cast the vote.
Voter education is the key for people to realise and understand about election and referendum. Sudanese had a successful of these 2 events.
I feel proud myself to be UNV member which I can share and exchange my knowledge and experiences with people in the world.
As a UNV Civil Affairs Expert in Liberia working with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) I organised unemployed youths in the country side in one of the Counties called River-Cess in clearing access roads and putting up washed away bridges using funds which were provided under the quick Impact projects. brought together about 500 youths in 10 different villages. at the end of the day we cleared and made over 60 kms of formerly impassable roads and bulit 8 bridges using big forest logs across water streams which at the end made it possible for the communities to bring their vegetables and small wood furniture for sale to the main access road to the capital town and the youths who got involved in the exercise got paid a stipend of 3 dollars a day they worked. My story futured in the UNV Monthly bulltin of UNMIL and can be accessed on the net. I felt that I had positively contributed to the mission objective as a UNV.
Roster Number 122264
It is Exciting to be a Volunteer – Hear My Story!
By Rhoda Neufville:
At an early age, I learnt that volunteering i.e. helping others is the simplest way of impacting on the lives of people and making positive changes in my own life. At that time, it involved carrying out unassigned activities such as helping an elderly person or a little child, and doing other house chores. These are still relevant and I have come to realize that volunteering gives me the chance to do some humanitarian work and gain important professional experience at the same time. It has helped me to know and appreciate other cultures and traditions and the fact that all people are human and the same. This becomes more evident as I share their pains, fears, concerns, joy, hope and strides towards peace and development. Indeed, volunteering is a great combination of learning and sharing opportunities that has given me fulfillment and self development.
My first concrete work experience was through volunteering for the Liberian National Red Cross. I volunteered as a Peer Educator, Child Protection Officer and a Nurse Aid from 1997-2001, when I was in high school. All of these activities were done in displacement camps working with displaced people, returnees and refugees.
My second experience in volunteering was after I finished my studies at AME University. I was engaged as a Youth Volunteer for the Liberian National Youth Volunteer program in Grand Gedeh County, outside of Monrovia. I was teaching at a Public School where I organized the Girls Club. I also carried out Gender-Based Violence/Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (GBV/SEA) training and helped improve the teachers and students’ relationship. I also motivated the local community especially the women and youths to know that they need each other and have to be more proactive in shaping their lives. They also have to be aware of their environment, in order to know the inherent opportunities and challenges, as well as possible ways of progress.
I feel very proud and happy of this programme because it is my country’s own volunteer programme and I was part of the first group. It gave me the opportunity to work in other organizations and countries. Today I still feel very strong about my past volunteering experience and I believe it has given me the chance to be what I am today – a National United Nations Volunteer (NUNV).
Right now, I am working as a NUNV with the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) as a Community Mobilizer/Field Monitor Assistant in Public Schools that are under the School Feeding Programme, in Nimba and Bong Counties. I am a member of a wonderful team working on improving the School Feeding Programme in these counties. Under the direct supervision of the Head of the WFP Sub Office, I work in close collaboration with the School Feeding Unit of Ministry of Education and Partners, responsible for building the capacity of Parent Teacher Associations and communities to support implementation of the programme in all targeted primary school in the two Counties.
For my role, I review, coordinate and monitor the implementation of the assistance programme at the local level, in close collaboration with the partner organizations. This involves food deliveries, storage, transport and distribution at the site, as well as ensuring proper recording of all WFP activities and providing feedback to relevant authorities.
Presently, as a community mobilizer, I am the focal person of the school garden project in both Nimba and Bong Counties. Out of the 110 schools on the garden list in these six counties, I am responsible for forty (40 schools) in two Counties (Bong and Nimba). I will at this point focus on one school in Nimba County - Manbor Elementary Public School - which has a population of four hundred sixty-seven (467) students, who are fed by WFP.
When I started working in Nimba County, this School’s Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) was very weak and did not even have any plan or management structure in place. All of its activities were run by the principal along with other teaching staff.
The first step I took was to analyse the situation of the school in the context of the project objectives. I continued by organizing an in-house PTA/FMC leadership workshop to help the community members understand their roles and responsibilities. After this workshop, an election was held and the leadership structure was set up and put in place.
Since this school has excess land, with my help, the leadership setup a working committee and began working on the school land, without external support from WFP/FAO. After two months, the PTA had a garden of its own. They set up a day and time in every month to meet and have a discussion about the up-keep of the school and the community. The School and community members were able to work together as a team and understand one another.
Looking at the level of work of the school, WFP/ FAO/ Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) selected this school to be part of the garden project. It is currently among the twenty (20) schools in Nimba.
Women Empowerment and Participation: The women of the Manbor Elementary Public School PTA are now very strong and hard working. Before the election and setting up of the PTA, these women were not working at all. They used to say: “It is men’s business to go for meeting and take decisions”. They were just there to listen and do what the men will say. My presence as a woman NUNV working with WFP and the school made them very happy and they decided to participate in the project. As of now, the total number of persons working on the school garden is forty (40) with women taking the lead (25 women and 15 men).
The initial 1.5 hectares of land to be used for the school garden has been exceeded ato almost 2.0 hectares, with the community providing the seeds on their own for the additional 0.5 hectare of land. Produce from the school garden are used in the school feeding programme, while the rest of the crops are sold. The school has made about 58,000 LD from the garden. The money is used to help with the up-keep of the school system and other projects of the PTA in the community. From the proceeds, they have built a dining hall for the kids, a kitchen and has also has been constructed, while the school’s foodtball field was improved including repairing the nets. The latest project of the PTA was to fence the garden.
Following the great success with the garden, the PTA is now cultivating new land for the second round of seeds that were given to the school. Right now, school is harvesting corn, okra, pepper, and bitter ball for the garden. I feel so fulfilled from my association with these projects.
Reminisce of the pains of war:
The above is not all that I do; since the Ivorian crisis, I have had to deal with thousands of refugees streaming from the la Cote d’Ivoire to Liberia. Among others, I help with distribution of food to refugees and seeing to other welfare issues within the WFP mandate, in collaboration with other UN agencies. The pathetic situation of the refugees made me weep at times and reminds me of the rages of war and violent conflict that I suffered during the Liberian civil war. Violent conflicts should be avoided it at all cost. Besides the emotional challenges, I have had to endure the difficult and deplorable roads in the counties in order to reach my target beneficiaries. Sometimes roads turn into river during the rainy season, bridges into death-traps that need to be circumvented, yet we move on with courage and determination.
At the end of it all, and just like other volunteer work I have undertaken, I always go home each day fulfilled, knowing that my humble contribution gladdens someone’s heart and made their life better. This is my story on volunteering and I hope it will stir you on to volunteer, give someone hope and put a smile on faces of the needy.
Thank you for your kind attention!
“Reducing teenage pregnancy, a key to minimizing mental health problems”
Following 14 years of conflict that devastated the social fabrics of our society, Liberia continues to face many challenges ranging from Gender Based Violence, Sexual Exploitations, Teen Age Pregnancy, unemployment, lack of human resource development, wide spread corruption amongst other mad practices.
Within the health sector, which has to be one of Liberia’s pillars in her fight to reduce poverty, faces huge challenge “multitudes of teenage mothers" whose future in the post conflict development is heading for disaster.
Currently working as a mental health clinician at the nation’s leading health center, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital providing psychosocial interventions for maternal and child health, eighty percent of clients visiting the service that started in April 2012, are teenage mothers with mental health issues.
Since the introduction of the mental health service, a total of forty three clients have benefited from psychosocial intervention. From interviews conducted with clients, key factors leading to mental health issues can be attributed to abandonment by spouses and in some cases parents.
Considering these factors, I identified the need to swiftly respond to the prevention of teenage pregnancy which poses mental health issues amongst school going age girls.
In order to reduce the recurrence of teenage pregnancy causing mental health issues by 5% over the next six months, I started volunteering in my community organizing teenage girls’ kickball team as a strategy in promoting health talk among girls who are victims and potential victims of sexual exploitation.
During each practice session, a 30 minutes health talk on the dangers of early experimenting with sex, the importance of family planning, prevention of pregnancy, and the practice of safe sex among key topics discussed. A total of 16 – 21 girls are regular attendance of the girls’ health which takes two times weekly.