Wisdom Addo from Ghana is the Executive Director for West Africa Centre for Peace Foundation. Addo has over 7 years of experience working with young people in schools and communities - mobilizing and training them on peace building, conflict resolution, leadership skills, and community developments. In April, he attended Wilton Park's Next Generation African Peacebuilding: New Voices, New Networks and New Strategies where he told allAfrica.com how his foundation is helping young people in Ghana gain leadership skills and also promoting peace, tolerance and respect for human rights in schools and communities.
My name is Wisdom Addo, I am from Ghana. I am the Executive Director for West Africa Centre for Peace Foundation. Basically what we do is we going into school in communities and we set up peace clubs. We train the young people from the ages of 10 to 25 about peace building, human rights, leadership learning and service learning projects. We use the teachings of the Nobel Peace laureates and the strategies they used to overcome violence in their lives to train the young ones.
We have three pillars of our programming - we have education, inspiration, action. The education talks about the bio of the laureates, what she/he has done to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, they learn about team-building, human rights, leadership, conflict resolution and mediation and then the inspiration is when we bring in a Nobel Peace laureate to come and share inspiration to the young ones and then action is when we do service learning project so that they know that after learning about inspiration, the educational and other skills. You don't just fold your arms and sit down.
We ask them to work as a group, to go into their communities and find the problem and solve them, thereby coming out with leadership skills, to identify an issue in their community and work towards it, rather than pointing fingers and feeling like the government has to do it, but instead take steps of leadership and working to make a change in their community.
Mostly in the schools we bring these young people together and we ask them to identify issues and they are able to come out with issues like teenage pregnancy. When they identify teenage pregnancy in their community, how do they go about finding solutions. So they come out with the guidelines of solving it, some of them go as far as getting to assembling men like leaders in the community then they ask them to get all the parents around to talk to them about the effect of teenage pregnancy, the importance of young girls being in school, some of them also go as far as talking to people who don't go to school, who are abused and those who abuse drugs.
We have this trend of among the youth called where a lot of youth tend to rely on Tramadol to even study, to do work in their communities which has a kind of ripple effect on them which is not good so we have our young people stepping into these communities, into these ghettos where they are able to talk and advocate about drug abuse. They are able to talk to professionals about how they bring people together to talk about dangers of drug abuse.
- AllAfrica's reporting on peacebuilding is supported by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.