Liberia: Lutheran Church in Liberia Launches Psychosocial Intervention project for Drug Users and Returning Migrants

(LCL Bishop, Dr. Jensen Seyenkulo, Mont. Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, LCL-THRP Director, F. Philip L. Nushann Jr & others)

MONROVIA – A project seeking to reduce societal fragmentations through psychosocial intervention and empowerment of returning migrants and drug users has been launched in Monrovia.

The project is being implemented by the Lutheran Church in Liberia Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program (LCL-THRP) in partnership with the Civil Peace Service (CPS), Bread for the World Germany.

The (LCL-THRP) was established in 1998 by the Lutheran Church in Liberia to promote peacebuilding and national reconciliation and to provide psychosocial rehabilitation to traumatized individuals and communities. 

The LCL-THRP is a member of the Civil Peace Service (CPS) Network of Liberia, which was initiated by the German Federal Government comprising both governmental and non-governmental agencies, including religious institutions. 

The CPS works to promote peace by strengthening civil structures and initiatives, focusing particularly on youth and women in the Mano River region and also by ensuring that natural resources are utilized for the benefit of society.

Giving the overview of the project, Rev. F. Philip L. Nushann, Jr., Director, LCL-THRP outlined the main activities of the project including the empowerment of 10 returning migrants and 10 drug users through the provision of life skills training opportunities.  Director Nushann furthered that the project will work with parents and communities to have rehabilitated disadvantaged or affected drug users and returning migrants reintegrated into homes and communities so that they too can live their full potential without fear of stigma and discrimination.  

Making remarks at the ceremony on behalf of a group of disadvantaged youths, George B. Logan said they are willing to leave what he described as “bad habits” and do something positive with their lives. 

“Lutheran Church, please come to our aid. We are tired of this life we find ourselves in. Only you can help us,” he said.

“We, the disadvantaged youths or drug users are tired of living in the streets and taking in dangerous substances.”  

Making a special statement during the launching ceremony on Monday, April 18 at the Lutheran Compound in Sinkor, Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon indicated that Liberia cannot achieve the fight against illicit drugs and drug users only based on stronger drug laws.

Senator Dillon said that the full implementation of intentional and courageous decisions by everyone, especially responsible institutions is vital to the fight against drugs.  According to Senator Dillon, the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA), a government institution responsible for the fight against illicit drugs on many occasions has blamed the drug crisis in the country on weak drug law; making reference to a drug user or dealer getting bail for as little as US$72 and by lack of logistical and financial support. 

He argued that ratifying the country’s current drug law is no guarantee for addressing the drug crisis if the LDEA and other security apparatus lack the ability and courage to prosecute top invincible and influential individuals who facilitate the importation and sale of drugs in the country.

The end-users of Italian white, cocaine, and other dangerous substances in the country are not being smuggled into the country by them, but by professional dealers, Senator Dillon added.

It has been observed that in some communities, drug users hang old sneakers or shoes atop electrical wires to portray the existence of a notorious gang or ghetto in a particular community.

The Montserrado County Senator disclosed that the situation is seriously affecting a huge component of disadvantaged youths in Montserrado County and other parts of the country, something that prompted his decision to establish a rehabilitation center to address the growing wave of disadvantaged or drugs affected youths, commonly known as “Zogos” in Liberia.

According to the Montserrado Senator, the rehabilitation center currently under construction, when fully completed will ensure the transformation of drug-affected youths into productive citizens in the Liberian society.  He promised that when officially open to the public, the Center for Rehabilitation will form strategic partnerships with the Lutheran Church in Liberia’s Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program in rehabilitating disadvantaged youths.   

For several decades, past and current administrations of Liberia have miserably failed to tackle the influx of disadvantaged youths on the streets of Monrovia and other parts of the country.

Launching this project, Lutheran Bishop, Dr. D. Jensen Seyenkulo vowed that the Church will work with the national government, drug users, and other civil society organizations for the rehabilitation of disadvantaged youths he described as Liberia’s future generation.

Bishop Jensen stressed that though, many returning migrants and drug users feel neglected by society; thereby making them hopeless; adding the church will restore their hope.  Bishop Seyenkulo challenged disadvantaged youths to be positive in their decisions and actions.  He disclosed that many disadvantaged or drug-affected youths across the country have a strong desire to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into their own society with a new mindset but need a push from the government and other institutions including the Church, and he committed the LCL to this helping process. 

For his part LDEA Information and Communications Director, Mr. Michael Jipply applauded the Lutheran Church in Liberia Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program for such an initiative in complementing the efforts of the national government to ensure a drug-free society for the protection of Liberia’s future generation and the current peace and security.