Liberia: ‘Disadvantaged Youths’ Cry for Support

Themah Walker

Duazon, Lower Margibi – Disadvantaged youths, who are referred to as ‘zogos,’ in the Duazon Community, Lower Margibi County, have alarmed over what they called “inhumane treatment by state security” against them.

Report by Willie N. Tokpah /00231777039231 ([email protected])

They want help that will rehabilitate them.

Themah Walker, who spoke in behalf of his disadvantaged colleagues, told FrontPageAfrica that the inability of government to provide skills training and other forms of education for them is contributing to their constant involvement in illicit drug usage and other deviant activities.

Themah put their number at nearly 60 in the Duazon Community.

He acknowledged that their current habits are undeserving; however, added that government is not putting in place any measures that will help them get out of their bad habits.

“We are not saying that our habits are good, but we already find ourselves in them. But there are many skillful guys among us. Some of us want to get some forms of training that will help us leave the streets, coming and beating on us is not fair.”

“If we are trained to do construction, I can challenge you that we will leave ‘Barca-Yard.’ Some of us can draw some of the good house plans. I want to ask P-Tech to provide more help to us so that we can enroll in their institution to learn some skills training,” Walker told to FrontPageAfrica.

Mark Howard

Walker was speaking at a program organized by Ponawonnie Technical Institute (P-Tech) in Duazon recently. The program was aimed at identifying with the zogos in the Duazon community and to provide avenue so that some of them can be enrolled to acquire vocational skills training.

Speaking further, Walker noted that some security personnel are in the constant habit of beating and raiding them without proving them alternative means to life.

Vocational empowerment according to him, remains a challenge for disadvantaged youth living in ‘Barca-Yard’.

However, he indicated that some of his peers are already vocationally skilled.

“These days, money business is hard; for us to leave the street, we have to get some level of training to get money for ourselves, because we are used to money and if we don’t have money, we have to do otherwise to survive.”

According to him, they feel bad when they are referred to as ‘Zogos.’ He said, “So when we have opportunity like this, we always make it known we need help to leave this situation.”

Another disadvantaged youth, Mark Howard, said he has no hope of building a decent life due to marginalization. According to him, he cannot bear his condition.

Rev. Emmanuel Giddings

“We have been marginalized; people call us zogos and the society does not want to identify with us. It does not consider us qualified ones because we don’t have documents. Some say, we learned our skills wayward ways, but we can help to build this country if attention is given to us,” Mark assured.

Mark stated that though most of them may not be trusted because of their behaviors, he indicated all of them should not be rejected as some of them are willing to be reintegrated.

“Coming to beat on us is the wrongful ways of making us to leave the drugs. They come through the borders, airport and the sea; the government is aware of that. So if they want to stop them they should first address that side to minimize them and later build a rehabilitation center,” Mark maintained.

Reuben Kieh, another zogo, told the gathering that he is from a decent home but got involved in illicit drugs usage due to peer pressure but wants to stop. According to him, it is difficult for him to do it alone.

“It’s very hard to curtail this habit; it has symptoms of joint sicknesses. When you try to get out, sometime you get sick because the drug is used to the body and once you are addicted to it, you cannot do anything as a normal human without taking it.”

 According to Kieh, one way of getting him and his peers out of the act is by getting them busy with activities that will help them after rehabilitation.

He disclosed that heroin or ‘tide’ and cocaine are the two most common illegal drugs that many youths in Liberia are hooked on.

He called on the government to follow emulate P-Tech’s example of trying to keep disadvantaged youths busy and away from streets.

 For his part, P-Tech founder, Rev. Emmanuel Giddings frowned on state security for raiding disadvantaged youths without putting into place the necessary mechanisms that will rebuild their lives.

Few days to Christmas, officers of the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) and police raided disadvantaged youths in in the Duazon Community.

Rev. Giddings said though he does not support unwholesome acts by these youths, it would be equally important for government to create a platform that would keep them busy if they intend to get them from the streets.

“It has been established that LDEA personnel went into that community through the instruction of some big hands and throw some people out. This is not how we are going to get rid of our problems in Liberia. We cannot use violence and force.”

The P-Tech founder further called on government and members of special agencies responsible to help, to consider the possibility of working with institution such as P-Tech and others to embark on creative ways to bring about transformation.

“They are born like us and for one reason and another found themselves on this side of life, that they themselves may not want to be in this stage. The problem of our nation is our problem, and we are responsible to solve our own problem and by working together with community organizations like P-Tech. We can find a way to solve our problems.”