Liberian Philanthropist Stresses Significance Youth Empowerment


Buchanan – The President of a philanthropic organization Janjay Village of Hope says “Building a Sustainable Future for Liberia’s Next Generation” should be the priority of every good leader. 

Report by Elton W. Tiah, Contributor

Magdalene Harris, in a speech delivered recently at the convention of the Grand Bassa Youth Caucus, said issues related to youth development have been discussed at the county and national level but there’s still a need to continue the discussion until the goals of building a sustainable future for youth in the county is achieved. 

“I consider this issue critical to realizing increased wealth and greater stability in  Grand Bassa County and the nation as a whole”, she noted. 

Madam Harris continued: “What positive change have we made for our future generation – the youth – so they can live up to their full potentials? What paths have we created to address the economic, political, social, psychological issues facing today’s youth? How have we educated and trained our youth? What have we taught them? These are things leaders should think about “.

The president of the Janjay Village of Hope pointed out that youth and parents cryout for education, transportation, healthcare and jobs, something she said shows that there is a “leadership problem”.

“Our leaders have not defined the reality of the current state of affairs which is really the ground of opportunity, nor have they created a pathway or roads for those they serve, including our youth, to realize their own potential ” Madam Harris asserted. 

Madam Harris mentioned that for decades, leaders have not made enough effort to develop and implement the kinds of educational, empowerment programs and training initiatives for youths to be successful.

She added that Liberia’s future generations are not moving forward because they lack true leadership. 

“Real leadership is based on integrity, passion, and accountability.  Without these critical characteristics, there will be very little or long-lasting positive or productive impact.  These attributes help leaders make the differences in the lives of the people they serve”, she said. 

“To make a difference in the lives of youth requires that we allow them an opportunity to participate in activities and decisions that directly impact their lives. They need education and training. They need to learn the basic knowledge and skills to be able to get a good job and earn money to support themselves and their families.

“In our society today more than 70% of our nation’s population constitutes youth, yet they have no access to quality education, healthcare or employment. Many of our youth are struggling because of the challenges they faced within our society”.

She said other countries are raising the bar to develop and prepare their younger generation for the 21st-century workforce, but Liberian leaders are spending less time and fewer resources to secure a better and more sustainable future for the next generation particularly in rural areas, which lacks access to good schools.

“Prostitution and drug abuse are on the rise, the rate of early and unwanted pregnancies have increased among teenage girls due to poverty and lack of family planning, and early marriage is high among our female youths. Petty trade for survival is high among youth. High dropout rates due to poverty among youth are prevalent. Also in school, teachers are having sexual relationship with younger girls for grades, and high crime rates among youth are even increasing due to unemployment but untrue leaders don’t think about that”, Magdalene Harris told the young people. 

Madam Harris asserted that many of the youth live in the graveyards because they have either lost their sense of direction for a meaningful life. 

“Many of them are ex-fighters who were disarmed but not fully demobilized. They have no place in society, because for them, life is over. When we neglect those who should take on a leadership role to preserve our heritage, then we are wrong. We must invest in them and their futures”.

She then encouraged the young people to stand up for themselves to confront the challenges they are faced with during these times. 

“You must mobilize yourself to do the work that will create better opportunities for you, your families, your communities and this county.  you can make this a place where we can all be proud. See yourselves as the power-walker, the leaders of the future. You are the future political leaders, health practitioners, educators, economists, ambassadors, religious leaders, securities, etc. who will bring sense and direction to Grand Bassa and Liberia as a whole. You must develop an awareness of your vision, compassion and be willing to take the risk to achieve your vision”. 

She furthered: “See yourselves as young men and women who have a mission to achieve something greater than yourself, stand up high to make the greatest effort for yourself until you can become that person you want to be.  Begin to shape your mentality about your situation, because in you is a future and the future of our county. Despite the challenges, we know youth have the abilities, and the energies they bring to the table in spite of the challenges is just unmeasurable. We know that you have great potential and the ability to shift the current challenges into opportunities for a better future”.