Young people can be force for peace

Youngsters in Tankoro Chiefdom, Kono district.

A youth leader believes SABI can play a big role in in helping young people become peace-builders in communities and a positive force in shaping Sierra Leone’s future.

Boekarie Umu Mansary is a chiefdom youth leader in Bafodia, Koinadugu district, northern Sierra Leone. In July 2017, he brought together stakeholders in youth work in his district, including the children’s authorities and SABI partners, to share views.

‘One of the things we arrived at is that we want to claim ownership of projects,’ he said.

‘Young people are the pillars for every development in this nation. If we say yes, things will happen; if we say no, nothing will happen. If the youth all accept development, if they all accept peace, trust me, this country will go ahead.’
Boekarie Umu Mansary, Chiefdom youth leader, Bafodia, Koinadugu district.

Empowering marginalised communities

One of SABI’s goals is to promote the participation and leadership of women, youth, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups in decision making.

The inclusion of youth in SABI is facilitated by Restless Development. Going beyond simply linking young people to service providers and decision makers, the programme develops a culture of asking questions and following up with young Sierra Leoneans.

They empower young people to reach out to different groups within communities, as well as their peers and leaders, and support efforts to hold service providers to account across the whole community.

‘The SABI programme plays a great role for us in our chiefdom. It helps us to know that if we have an issue we can go and report this issue.’

Creating awareness of responsibility

Boekarie said when they had had a problem with a local contractor who had won a council bidding process but didn’t deliver, he discussed this with his SABI contacts. Thanks to his intervention, that contractor won’t be working for the council again. ‘We only did that with the help of SABI,’ Boekarie added.

‘The SABI programme tells us about our responsibilities, things that will benefit us, and things we should do that will benefit us in the long run.’

Boekarie hopes SABI will also have an impact during the elections in March. Violence has been a persistent feature of elections in Sierra Leone, and there are fears for the 2018 elections.

‘[In 2018] we have the national elections and at the same time we elect our paramount chief,’ Boekarie said. ‘We need to increase awareness of our young people [of the need] to stay away from problems, to be law-abiding people and promote peace within the country.

‘We are creating awareness among the youth for responsibility in the election process.’

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