Liberia: Treating Young People Well Prevents Conflict – FOHRD Exe. Director Says

Pictures of the Foundation for Human Rights Defense Int’l Liberia new office opening; Below left is Executive Director T. Torbor Wonokay and Mr. Peter N. Wonokay (right), Country Director

MONROVIA – The Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights Defense (FOHRD) International Liberia Office has told the nation that conflict can be prevented when young people are treated with dignity and respect for their human rights.

Speaking at the dedication of his country office new and own facilities along the Edward Binyan Kesselly Military Barracks-Monrovia highway in Gbengbah Town last Tuesday, Mr. Tee Torbor Wonokay told Liberians that actions by adults mostly against young people, led to the civil war. “From my own personal experience, I have come to realized that some of the things that led to the civil conflict in this country and even things that happened while the conflict went on, could have been prevented had young people been treated well,” he stated.

He further told his audience, predominantly young children in high school and other grade levels, that international norms and principles of democracy demand that children are treated with certain values.

“Just because you are young doesn’t mean you are any less in value. But in this country, we see young people when it is time to be in the classroom, they are out there in the Redlight Market, ELWA Market, etc, selling cold water.”

According to him, sometime the children, after selling the whole day, only bring home a 100 Liberian dollar (US$0.50); adding: “For this purpose that child has missed out on education.”

He reminded Liberia’s children facing such harsh conditions that inasmuch as some of their parents or guardians maybe trying to make ends meet to take care of them, it is not their (children’s) faults that Liberia is this way and that it is incumbent on the state to make better provisions for their upbringing.

Adding: “You should not grow up in community that has no clean drinking water, you don’t have no education and other basic things pertaining to the human family. And when you grow up and you are 15 or 20 and you are so hungry and desperate because you can’t afford, then they call you ‘zogos’ or ‘criminals’.”

He got a loud and resounding “No” when he asked the students whether the President’s children or other well-to-do Liberians’ children were better than them.

He added, then, “So, we as a society fails, when Liberia’s children don’t have access to all of the basic things that are entitled to every member of the human family.”

Mr. Wonokay then went on to state that therefore FOHRD has included among its programs, School Feeding Initiative. “When children go to school and they fail, there are so many reasons. Sometimes they are not focused because they go to school hungry. It should not be like that.”

He stressed that there is so much corruptions in the country, especially in public entities, that are leaving Liberian children to be in bad conditions.

Speaking earlier, Mr. Peter N. Wonokay, Country Director of FOHRD, informed the students that FOHRD is going to be bringing in seasoned rights lawyers and other experts to conduct lecture series with them to bring them up to speed with their basic human rights.

Mr. Wonokay told the students and other onlookers that FOHRD as an advocate group, speaks for the rights of people, including children, to be fully respected.

He informed the audience that among FOHRD’s programs is scholarship for deserving students. “Right now, we have nearly 30 students on our scholarship; we are now in the process of tripling this number to 100,” he disclosed.

He enumerated some of the things, including feeding, scholarship, symposium to call on the government to establish an anti-rape commission, anti-election violence campaign, etc, that FOHRD has been engaged into since it was incorporated.

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