MONROVIA: Liberia’s At-Risk Youths, known as “Zogos,” have expressed joy and delight over plan by the Liberian government, headed by President George Manneh Weah, to clear them from the streets and provide them with skills training for positive contribution to the Liberian nation.
The spokesman of the Zogos, Free Coleman, told a crowded news conference in Monrovia yesterday that they (Zogos) have been praying for such opportunity aimed at transforming their lives for better.
He made the statement on Thursday June 23, 2022, at the regular Ministry of Information Culture Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) Press Briefing held at the Pelham Building on Center Street in Central Monrovia
He commended the Liberian government, especially President George Manneh Weah for launching the Zogos’ rehabilitation initiative.
He said they the At-Risk Youth or Zogos are completely tired of being in the streets and being stigmatized by the public as criminals. He told the gathering that Zogos, are at times, wrongly accused and they also victimized wrongly.
Mr. Colman said majority of them are high school graduates, high school and college dropouts who could not continue their educational journey due to financial and other difficulties.
He expressed the hope that government’s plan to rehabilitate them should not be just a “mere political game.”
Speaking at the occasion, the Chairman of the National Steering Committee of At-Risk Youth, D. Zeogar Wilson has disclosed that the Youth Agriculture Training Center (YATC) in Bensonville City will be transformed into a rehabilitation center to help provide rehabilitation programs for war effected youth or Zogos in the country.
The Youth Agriculture Training Center (YATC) in Bensonville City was built in the 1970s by former Liberian President, William R. Tolbert, to train Liberia youth in Agriculture and other disciplines.
Chairman Wilson who is also the Minister of Youth and Sports said the YATC Rehabilitation center will offer over 14 different skills training opportunities to the At-Risk Youth who will be at the center to acquire their skill.
According to him, graduates of the center will be provided tools as per the course they studied and they will also be connected to companies in Liberia for possible employment opportunity.
Minister Wilson said the Government of Liberia and its international partners will hold a US$13 million fundraising rally on 30,th June 2022, for the “National at Risk Youth Project,” a long term project drafted by the Ministry of Youths and Sports and other development partners including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
According to him, the project will be implemented by the Ministry of Youth and Sports as the lead Ministry, the Ministry of Health, Gender, Justice, and Finance, among others.
He told the gathering that government’s plan to rehabilitate At-Risk Youth or Zogos or other less fortunate people in the society is not just a mere political game but the Liberia government is sincere ready and serious to provide skills training for them.
Also speaking at the occasion, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, Minister of Health said the health Ministry will cater to the health needs of the At-Risk Youth or Zogos before they can enroll at the rehabilitation center and will also do their individual medical histories.
For her part, the acting Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Madam Telah Harris, said her ministry as part of the National Steering Committee of the At-Risk will deploy social workers at the center to provide social counseling’s to them and will also help to connect them with their families.
Madam Harris, also said that the of Gender, Children and Social Protection Ministry will also create an awareness in the various communities to educate the citizenry that the At-Risk Youths have changed as such, they should not be stigmatized.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive officer of the Jetty’s Trading Corporation, Dr. Upjit Singh Sachdeva (alias-Jeety) lauded the government of Liberia for plan to rehabilitation program for the At-Risk Youth, something he said, will go a long way to provide skills training program for the less fortunate people in the society.
He, however, pledged to employ one hundred rehabilitation center graduates of the At-Risk Youth to his rubber factory.
He used the occasion to encourage them to take advantage of the opportunity being provided by the Liberian government for the betterment of themselves and the growth and development of the country. Written by T.R.Dixon