Liberia: Spotlight on John T. Saboah Jr., A 22’ Fellow of the Obama Leaders Africa Program      


Born and raised during the Liberian civil war, and having to navigate through the vicissitude of a daring past, John T. Sarboah Jr.’s story, like many Liberian Youths today, is that of a little boy who sees beyond the darkness of today with a furnace of hope in his eyes.

For most of his childhood, John was displaced by the war into the villages of rural Nimba in the Gar region, where hunger, lack of access to clean water, and diseases, accounted for more deaths than the bullets of guns.

“I say this, because my mother even survived TB, due to the Medical intervention by a medical doctor named, Dr. Jallah who was assigned at the TB annex in Wuo’s Town near Ganta in 2003,” he said.

He grew up as a children’s pastor and leader in the McAllister UMC’s youth and children ministry, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ during high school devotions while playing lead roles throughout his primary and secondary education at the Ganta United Methodist High School.

In 2012, while serving as Spokesperson of the Student Council Government, John went on to join a local Boy Scout group and later rose to the ranks of Senior Patrol Leader, District Commissioner, and Acting County Commissioner of the Nimba Scout Council. 

“We were able to reach, over 150 young boys and girls, transforming lives, and today, most of them went on to various colleges and are now our community’s unsung heroes. Those young people changed my outlook on leadership,” he added in his recollection.

Off to college, John would soon earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Biology with honors from Cuttington University in 2015 and scale down more toward his childhood dream of becoming a Medical Doctor. While at Cuttington. John volunteered with the Hitachi Tutorial Session as a tutor and was also a founding member of the Environmental Conservation Club Liberia where he served as the organization’s first Secretary General and later Public relations officer.

“Both campus-based organizations existed as a space where we could connect, help each other improve our academic skills, and volunteer services to the community in which we found ourselves.” He also served as dorm counselor of the Lower Gardiner Dormitory, and President of His Service Learning Group.

John T. Sarboah Jr. is the former Vice President of the Liberia Medical Students Association, a 22’ Fellow of the Obama Leaders Africa Program, a final-year medical student at the Achille Mario Dogliotti College of Medicine, an Emerging Healthcare Advocate, and a Public Speaker.

He is passionate about service to his country, community, and people. He believes, beyond being “future leaders,” young people are an important part of the fulcrum of today’s society. And if the future we all hope for is attainable, that will be because the existing system is flooded with deserving young people with the energy and expertise to lead a disruptive change.

 “There’s no time more convenient for intergenerational solidarity in the context of the Liberian dream, than now. We (the younger generation)” are ready and it’s high time that we have an equal opportunity at the table.”

In early 2023, John intends to establish his foundation, tagged Sarboah Foundation, a Non-For-Profit venture that will provide a platform for young passionate, and value-driven boys and girls to develop their leadership skills, connect with opportunities and realize their fullest potential.

“As a son of a teacher (father) and an elementary dropout (Mother) and the first of my family to graduate from university, I feel compelled to give back, create the engines that will get this country moving, and inspire the next generation into action.

President Obama assured me, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. Sitting in the same room with President Obama at the Obama Foundation Democracy Forum in New York and having to share space with a man, whose insight, speeches, and actions continue to inspire change all around the world, was just mind-blowing. President Obama has changed my perspective on leadership and democracy and I could not be more ready to translate this into concrete actions.”

John called on all young leaders in Liberia and across the world to take advantage of Obama Foundation Leaders Program to expand their horizons and develop their potential for the herculean task of leadership.