The Youth Exploring Solutions (YES), a passionate and voluntary youth-led development organization on July 26, 2012 organized series of initiatives to venerate Liberia's 165th Independence Day Anniversary in Wood Camp, Electoral District #3 Montserrado County.
The activities earmarked were in three folds which included community service, reflection about the meaning and essence of Independence to young people and youth in sports carnival. These programs were being held under the theme "Fostering Patriotism" and geared toward creating an enabling and conducive environment for people who feel somewhat disconnected to have a sense of belonging and as well cultivate self-proud and self-appreciation of being a Liberian no matter the prevailing circumstances.
As part of the initiatives, the community service was designed to strengthen volunteerism and avoid compensation mentality, promote civic engagement while curtailing dependency syndrome and ensure citizens' participation in development and at the same time stay away from constant reliance on external sources for assistance to carry out community services. Scores of youth including school administrators, Wood Camp Community Chairman, Mr. David Varla and other folks joined the cleanup campaign exercise which involves the removal of grime from filthy drainages along the newly constructed Parker Paint Road. During the campaign, residents within the proximity of the road were cautioned not to use the drainage as garbage dump, but instead utilize the designated site being provided.
A dialogue to reflect and brainstorm on some critical and fundamental questions about independence proceeded: What does independence means to young people in Liberia? After century plus of independence what is there to celebrate? Have we live up to our founding documents? Have we forgotten those that fought for us? What can be done to preserve our independence?
Addressing the dialogue, YES Executive Director, Mr. Stephen B. Lavalah, avowed that due to the brutal and barbaric civil upheaval most young people have not lived in a society free of crime, violence and drug abuse. Besides, he stressed that many youth engaged into unwholesome practices which are incompatible to societal norms. As a result, he stated, several young people have not come to the realization and appreciation of the true meaning of being independent as a country. YES boss inspired the youth to work diligently and adopt positive values and personal integrity and also emboldened youth and other segments of the population to exhibit Liberian culture, tradition, arts, music and language.
The youth leader affirmed that Liberians have got to celebrate independence, because their country paved the way and created an avenue for many African nations to be free from colonialism and imperialism. He advised young people to be law abiding and obey the founding documents most of which were duplicated from the United States of America as well as respect constituted authority.
Mr. Lavalah recounted experience last year during the American Corner Speaker Series in Zwedru when a lady asked "what makes America great?" to his co-speaker, Lauren Gibson, a Peking Fellow assigned at the US Embassy. He revealed that to his utmost surprise Lauren responded by saying "The greatness of America is neither the largest and innovative economy nor possession of the world's deadliest military, but it is because American has learned to cultivate the spirit of unity in diversity." Accordingly, the youth advocate is appealing to all Liberians to accept and appreciate the rich diversity Liberia has got instead of envy, hatred, deceit and the quest for supremacy.
"Let us stop the dependency syndrome and blame shaping mentality and begin the work of remaking Liberia through volunteerism and social responsibility" YES Executive Director added.
NAYMOTE's Program Officer, Atty. Mark Marvey served as one of the speakers during the discourse that brought together over 100 young people and adults with diversity background. He cautioned the attendees to strive for quality education and learn to be discipline. The youthful speaker urged young people to redefine their roles in family, school, community and society as a whole. He then asserted that success in life is not about the chance one has, it is about the choice one make. Atty. Marvey further averred that Liberia needs sober, hardworking and dedicated young men and women to meet up with the prevailing situations and challenges that lie ahead.
Meanwhile, the youth in sports carnival was amazing, fascinating and rewarding to players and even onlookers as it increase social cohesiveness, release stress and improve physical fitness. Though YES team did not emerge victorious, notwithstanding, the team managed to play competitive football with a prospective third division football club known as Shooting Star, which resulted to a score of 3 - 4 in favor the latter.