Liberian President lauds UNV-supported youth volunteer scheme
Monrovia, Liberia: The President of Liberia has praised the UNV-supported National Youth Volunteer Service (NYVS) programme at a ceremony in Monrovia, and pledged to further support the scheme.
Speaking during October at a recognition event for 67 volunteers who recently completed their six months service, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf commended UNV, UNDP and the Ministry of Youth and Sports for supporting her vision of engaging youth in productive voluntary service. She also said her Government will prioritize the employment of Liberian youth who have participated in the scheme.
President Sirleaf, Africa's first elected female head of state, added that this policy should encourage more Liberians to serve as volunteers and contribute to the reconstruction and development of Liberia. She also called on Government officials to support the programme and consider NYVS graduates for employment in different ministries and agencies.
UNV funded the preparatory phase in 2006-2007, providing needs assessments and expertise, and the scheme was officially launched in September 2007 by the Government of Liberia and UNDP. UNV continues to be closely involved though monitoring and evaluation support from headquarters, plus five national UNV volunteers in the project management team and one UNV volunteer from Tanzania as training coordinator.
Aiming to demonstrate how volunteerism is an empowering force for development, the NYVS is open to Liberian citizens under 35 with relevant academic qualifications, skills and experience. It places them in the Liberian countryside to work with communities on peace-building and development issues, bridging the divide between the urban youth volunteers and rural people.
During the first phase, which concluded in August 2008 and was funded primarily by UNV with UNDP support, 67 university graduates received training and were assigned to four counties - Lofa, Bong, Grand Gedeh and Maryland. The volunteers supported schools and clinics, organizing activities from sports events and clean-up campaigns to creating 'peace gardens'.
They also conducted training on gender-based violence, advocated for girls' education and ran discussion forums on subjects such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, all the time raising awareness of how volunteerism helps bring communities together.
During the ceremony with the President, NYVS Project Manager Aminu Waziri said the volunteers were empowering communities for sustainable development. He complimented those volunteers who went the extra mile by mobilizing communities to construct additional classrooms, thus increasing school enrolment in their areas of assignment.
Mr. Waziri added that in recognition of the NYVS programme's impact, additional requests have been received from the Ministries of Public Works, Gender and Development, and Youth and Sports to assign volunteers to their agencies.
Youth and Sports Minister Etmonia Tarpeh said the NYVS will be extended to additional counties during the next phase of the programme in 2009 and disclosed plans to open the NYVS to high school graduates. Minister Tarpeh appealed for additional resources from Government to sustain the programme.
The second phase will start in mid-November 2008, expanding to over 100 volunteers and two extra counties. In line with the Government’s priorities, the scheme will also include support to agriculture programmes, as well as health and education.
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