The Consolidated Youth for Peace & Development (COYPED) a registered non-for Profit youth-led organization and partners has launched the Peer Education Program for Alcohol & Drug Prevention among Young People in Liberia Project.
Speaking at the launch of the project on March 24, 2017 in the conference room of the YMCA in Monrovia, COYPED’s Executive Director, James Koryor stated that UNODC, in collaboration with The ECOWAS Commission, is implementing a regional project to “Support the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on illicit drug trafficking, related organized crime and drug abuse in West Africa” and that the project is fully funded by the European Union.
Mr. Koryor stressed that as part of the project implementation, UNODC, ECOWAS and the EU announce a call for proposals in support of innovative and pilot prevention initiatives in Burkina Faso, Liberia, Mauritania and Sierra Leone.
The COYPED boss further that it was against this backdrop that his organization was awarded a grant through a regional competitive process to implement the Peer Education Program for Alcohol and Drug Prevention amongst young People in Liberia Project.
Mr. Koryor stated that the project is a peer education engagement to prevent substance use amongst young people in Liberia, stressing that the primary goal of the project is to equip young people to be able to develop, adopt and sustain healthy attitudes and behaviours towards a drug free Liberia targeting Montserrado, Bong, Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties.
The youth advocate also stressed that the project will also adopt a youth to youth approach by training peer educators as prevention ambassadors who will work with youths and students in target schools and communities as mentors in the establishment of the alcohol and drug prevention clubs for effective awareness and sensitization campaigns.
Mr. Koryor further that the Programs will also target youth and adolescent involved with harmful substance used. These programs will basically focus on awareness creation, training and peer counselling so as to discourage and minimize drug abuse among substance users and will also encourage and involve families and communities in the development and implementation of community based prevention strategies in the Project selected counties to ensure that the project is sustained.
Serving as keynote speaker, Montserrado County’s District#9 Representative at the 53rd National Legislature, Munah Pelham-Youngblood cautioned Liberian youth to be agents of change in combating drugs in the country.
“We are stronger than what they say we are, we killed the war, we slaughtered EBOLA and with togetherness, we can destroy drugs before it destroys us, therefore, let’s use concerted efforts if Liberia, our common patrimony must be a drug free society not only for us, but for our children and the generations to come,” Representative Youngblood said at the YMCA.
Speaking on the theme; “Making Liberia a Drug Free Society,” she told the youth and students, drawn from several schools and communities within Monrovia that some people at the international level see them as shippers of cocaine, users of marijuana, slaves to drugs, sex and alcohol. They say you are good for nothing, corrupt with large criminal activity, they also see you as significant potential for money laundering and armed robberies, yes, they even call you rapists, their views towards you may be wrong or right but what name will you want the society to call you, she wonders rhetorically.
Reminding the youth to be hard working and studious, she wondered from them, “do you want to be called failures, disappointment, killers, rapists, drug users, child molesters, violent, greedy, envious, murderers, theft, corrupt, selfish, uneducated, backstabbers, lazy, deceitful, liars or criminals, or do you want to be remembered by the pages of history as courageous, successful, educated, famous, powerful, strong, willing, hard working, team player, great leader, awesome, brilliant, popular academically, talented, prudent, determine, peaceful or calm,” your wish is what we will wish for you, she said amidst applause from the audience mostly youth.
Also speaking was the Political Officer of European Delegation in Liberia, Madam Emma Sunblad. She said the EU is pleased to identify with the Project due to its strict adherence to drug and alcoholic prevention in Liberia.
Pledging her entity’s supports to future program, Madam Sundblad asserted that this project that is intended to make the country a drug free society is a further manifestation of a much stronger ties between Liberia and the European Union.
Representing ECOWAS’ Ambassador to Liberia, Nathaniel Walker commended COYPED for organizing such unique program that is geared towards the future of Liberia.
He said like him, many Liberians are craving for a day that Liberia will be a drug free country where young people will play positive role in the society.
For his part, the National Project Officer of UNODC, William Thompson, said as the future of Liberia depends on the youth, they must be prepared to deny themselves certain social activities if they must be regarded as flag bearers tomorrow.
He called for the togetherness of every Liberian regardless of belonging if we must live in a society where law and order must the norms of the day, adding, the future is at hand.
He used the occasion to call on the Liberian Government to give the Liberian Drug Enforcement Agency, LDEA, much needed budgetary support if the Agency must live by its Constitutional mandate.
Adding his voice, Assistant Minister for Planning, Research, and Development at the Ministry of Education, Saa David Nyumah challenged the larger society to take its role much more seriously as the campaign to rid the Liberian society of illicit is everyone’s concern.
He called on authority concerned to take the fight against the spread of illicit drug to every school in the country in order for students and youth to realize the danger involved in drug abuse.
Deputizing for the Director General of LDEA, Robert Kutu-Akoi, Chief of Prevention at LDEA, giving a reverse of the 23rd Psalm on the danger involved in drug abuse, called on the youth to always be in the position to say to drug, adding, drug abuse denies one of his or her dignity.
He told the youth to place themselves in the position where the country will joyously call on them to decide its future amongst the peers within the Comity of Nations.
Launching the Project, Deputy Youth and Sports Minister for Youth Development, Lance Gbagonyon lauded the COYPED family for the Project and called on the youth to realize the importance of resisting the danger of drug.
He reminded them that time waits for no man or woman, the type of life one initiates today will definitely speak for said person in the not too distance future, stressing, Liberia needs you to present her case before peers on the table of competitive political bickering.
Advancing his points was the President of the Federation of Liberia youth, FLY, Augustine Tamba. He said the vulnerability of the society in today’s Liberia is not only due to lack of logistics, but sincerity on the part of drug enforcers.
The FLY’s boss stressed that as soon as an alleged drug pusher is arrested, placed behind bars, in few days time, said culprit is seen on the streets pushing more quantity at times in the presence of enforcers with impunity.
He noted that if Liberia is to be a drug free society that every Liberian craves, collective effort must be the order of the day.
The Speaker of the Mano River Union Youth Parliament and the President of the Press Union of Liberia where amongst special guest that graced the occasion. The event brought together over one hundred participants including officials of government, international and national NGOs, youth and student groups, substance users and the media.