By: Leila B. Gbati
Minister of Youth and Sports and Chairman of the National Steering Committee, D. Zeogar Wilson, has announced that the implementation of the At Risk Youth program will begin on Monday August 21, 2023, initially targeting Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Bomi.
Minister Wilson made the disclosure at the Ministry of Information regular press briefing on Thursday August 17, 2023.
He indicated that the process will be fully voluntary adding that “The process will be done on a willing basis by the young people and will start with detoxification before subsequent referral to the targeted rehabilitation centers”.
According to him, they can’t move all of the At Risk Youth at once as such under the first one to three months period, they are hoping of enrolling one thousand of them.
“We will have professional people to speak with them, screen them on a willing basis before we will have them into the process,” he added. He said the process will visit various ghettos in the initial four Counties .
He further mentioned that Montserrado County will have six recruitment sites to include: Mandela Field Point Four, BushrodIsland, 72nd Barracks Field , Pelham Building on Center Street , BW Harris School area behind the Finance and Development Planning Ministry, Zimbabwe around the SKD Complex and Invincible Sports Park area respectively.
Minister Wilson further asserted that for Margibi, they will have two sites at CH Rennie Hospital in Kakata and Dolo’s Town, lower Margibi while Bomi will also consist of two sites to include: Bomi Health Team compound and the Gbah public clinic area and Grand Bassa County with two centers , namely : Liberia Government Hospital and the Rescue mission compound , all in Buchanan City respectively.
He noted that the process will also have six detoxification centers and thirteen rehab centers across the four response Counties emphasizing that President Weah believes in addressing the plights of At Risk Youth therefore, he warned Liberians not to politicized such national issue.
Minister Wilson at the same time calls for collective efforts from all Liberians in order to address the issue.
He encouraged the young People of Liberia to advantage of the process in order to improve their lives and to make them better citizens for tomorrow re-emphasizing that the process will not be a forceful one but rather done on a willing and voluntary basis.
He used the medium to hailed UN partners for their tremendous support to the program emphasizing that even though it is a government project.
For her part, the UN Resident Representative to Liberia Christine Umutoni, hailed the young people for being a great source of hope and the future of the Country.
Madam Umutoni highlighted that the young people of Liberia are good and have made major contribution towards the peace process including elections processes in Liberia.
Moreover, the UN Resident Coordinator wants the At Risk youth who compose of smaller portion of the larger youthful population to be taken care of.
According to her, it is key that such care be taken to avoid the endangering of the future of the Country and its people.
It can be recalled that the government in 2019 began activities aimed at addressing the At Risk Youth issue but such progress got on a snail pace due to the COVID-19 crisis. The government along with UN partners in 2021- 2022 made tremendous effort with the program and in June of this year, the Government through President George Weah officially launched the National At Risk Youth fund drive.
The program under the direct supervision of the National At-Risk Youth steering committee headed by Youth and Sports Minister D. Zeogar Wilson along with other government ministries and UN system worked and developed a joint concept document that is among other things being used by the committee to begin the gradual implementation of the project.