A courageous young lady, Success Sulonkoko, clinched the top prize of L$10,000 from Messengers of Peace (MOP) first edition of the 2019 peace essay competition last Tuesday at the St. Simon Baptist School on Capitol By-pass.
Since the first edition of this year's essay competition was launched in early February, eleven young people from various high schools and universities in Montserrado and Bong Counties wrote resounding articles on the selected theme "Youth Peace and Security" and submitted them through the Daily Observer. The Daily Observer is a staunch partner to MOP in the promotion of youth essay writing across the country.
When all had gathered at the awards ceremony, Success, who had been informed that she was shortlisted among the 3 finalists, stood astonished that her piece was selected among top youth writers as the winning piece, though she was confident in what she had written.
"Writing my essay wasn't too difficult because I knew the issues we (youths) are faced with", she told this paper.
In her article, success stressed the need for government to take serious action against the challenges and insecurities youths are faced with, especially women. She also called on the government of Liberia to provide safe spaces for the youths to explore their talents and create employment opportunities for them.
Success is an undergraduate student majoring in Peace and Development Studies at the Cuttington University in Suakoko, Bong County.
Mayor Jefferson Koijee, in his remarks, thanked MOP for the approach taken in changing the minds of youths for the greater good of the country.
Going forward, Mayor Koijee said the President Weah has entrusted him to manage the President's charity fund for which they will commit L$100,000 to the writing project of Messengers of Peace.
"We are doing this so that that young people can be stimulated and begin to make use of their talents instead of spending hours on Facebook," Koijee stressed, adding, "the skills that you possess can be utilized for a positive driven aspect in our society."
Abdullah Mohammed Sonnie, second place and Timothy P. Robertson, third, were encouraged by the Mayor not to give up but compete in the next edition of the competition which, he believes, will bring them great reward.
Stressing on the importance of the competition, Bill Gbafore, Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Officer at MOP, said "Messengers of Peace monthly writing competition is purposely for adolescents and youths across Liberia and it is conducted in an attempt to harness the latent potential of youths for peace, while empowering them with minimum subsidies for entrepreneurial ventures."
"Winners will join the Cohort of Peace Writers and benefit from parallel learning opportunities at MOP-Liberia Writer's Lab that will further develop their skills", he said.
Below is the full text of the winning essay, by Success L. Sulonkoko.
Youth, Peace and Security
By Success L. Sulonkoko
Youth are young people between the ages of 18-35. Youth are the building rock of every country; the youthful population contributes about 75% percent of the population of our country, Liberia. The peace and security of our beloved country Liberia lies in the hands of the young people. We as young people are focused and committed, we are willing to learn as such we won't be the one to bring up conflict in our country because we wish the best for this country.
With the issue of violence in our country, youths are always the ones leading these violence but they are strongly supported by government officials and other top guys who have the financial standing in this country, they don't have the country at heart and don't want to see the young people together as such they will want to create barrier to our unhinged peace we have.
These money men/women as they called themselves are not in the best interest of the youth by supporting their schooling financially but instead doing things to spoil their characters and prospect that no employer will want to hire them at their job site due to their past records of being involved into violence.
The youthful population of a country is to be educated in order for that country to move forward but on the contrary in Liberia, the youth are not given the needed support to achieve what they want to achieve in live, as such you will notice that the youth will always turn away from every opportunities that comes their way, they will not be able to meet up with the goals they have set for their lives which will put the security of the country at risk because they will be willing to do anything whether good or bad to survive.
The youth of this country have the ambition of forwarding their education especially those that are from a very underprivileged background but there are not many scholarships available for them; the few that are available are highly politicize and you need to have huge sum of money to bribe before getting the scholarship, as a young female you will have to sell your pride by having sex with those on top of the scholarship which is really hindering our growth and development as young people of this country. After having sex with that person the girl goes home feeling guilty and empty which will make her to create malice in her heart against that person, she will never be at peace whenever she meet them or think about what happened.
Youth especially young women are being violated, rape and harass everyday in our country which sent a very bad signal to the outside world that Liberia is unable to protect young women in this country, the government sees it to be something that is normal in our country instead of taking serious action against it.
The government needs to provide more security for the youths.