A consortium of representatives of various community-based youth organizations paid a courtesy call on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at her Foreign Ministry office in Monrovia on Thursday, August 21, 2014.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the youth delegation was led to the Office of the President by Youth and Sports Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, along with Deputy Ministers Jacklyn Capehart and Henry Yonton.
Minister Nagbe thanked President Sirleaf for accepting to meet and interact with the young people on how they can be of help in containing the spread of the deadly Ebola virus disease. He indicated that the Ministry of Youth and Sports has been engaging young people through their representative bodies such as the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY), Liberian National Student Union (LINSU) and the Mano River Union Youth Parliament (MRUYP) on the involvement of young people in the fight against the disease.
He also indicated that the consultation was now at another level which involves direct dialogue with community-based youth organizations present in the various communities. The dialogue according to Minister Nagbe will seek to encourage young people to participate massively in community sensitization and awareness forums on facts about the Ebola virus and how to contain its spread.
Making comments during the interaction, the youth representatives committed to using their voices and energy louder and harder than they are used for politics and other undertakings. They told President Sirleaf that a political conversation is not their concern for now, but what can be done to curb the further spread of the disease in Liberia. "We are prepared to consolidate all meaningful ideas to fight the virus and this will include peer to peer sensitization and awareness in the different communities," they collectively pledged.
They requested to be given the chance for active involvement and participation in the work of the National Taskforce on Ebola and be supported to fully reach out to the people.
They requested the Liberian leader to encourage the Taskforce to derive an effective means of communicating with people with disabilities especially the blind, deaf and dumb whom they claim are at risk due to their condition. Speaking further, the young people indicated their plan to establish community-based cells for prompt and early response; produce and distribute flyers with Ebola messages and work with the government on all fronts to contain the spread.
President thanked the young people and the Ministry of Youth and Sports and pointed out that the country truly needs the participation of the young people in the fight due to their huge number and efficiency.
She identified awareness and sensitization, contact tracing and response follow-ups as areas where the services of youth are critically and urgently needed. "If the fight against the spread of the deadly Ebola virus is to succeed, youth involvement and participation must be supported and enhanced. Our interventions must be extraordinary and quick realizing that time is of essence," the Liberian President pointed out.
All of the community-based youth organizations whose leaders and representatives formed part of the interaction with the President are already involved in sensitization and awareness at the community level.