Mobilizing Youth in the Fight for Economic Stability in Post-Ebola Liberia

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Today, we recognize the International Day of the African Child and the continued challenges that African children face. Many of the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) projects aim to bring prosperity to families and the next generation of youth who will lead and support their communities in solving development challenges of the past, and usher in resilience and economic growth for the future.

Celebrated on June 16 since 1991, this day commemorates the youth who gave their lives in the Soweto Uprising of 1976. Nearly ten thousand school children showed up to protest unequal education, and more than a hundred people were killed in a two-week period. Africa’s youth remain the conscience of the continent, and despite challenges of social unrest, food insecurity, and environmental degradation, Africa is the continent of the future.

Mirroring the success of U.S. youth groups promoting ‘growing young agricultural leaders’, USADF is working with 4-H Liberia, Inc. Established in 2006, 4-H Liberia empowers young people to become self-sufficient citizens by developing their potential in premiere leadership, agricultural sustainability and essential life skills. Achievement of this mission will result in capable, competent, and caring citizens.

According to 4-H Liberia, it is the largest out-of-school youth development program in the world. 4-H benefits 2,700 students, with the funds helping to establish school enterprise gardens in 72 schools in six counties across the country. In 2014, 4-H Liberia, Inc. was awarded a $100,000 grant just before the Ebola virus struck the region. Schools and businesses closed and the economy faltered, forcing the implementation of the 4-H project to be put on hold. As schools reopened in 2015, with the help of their USADF grant, the Montserrado County program resumed operations to address the challenge of enticing youth to the agriculture sector.

In Africa today, more than half of the population is under the age of 19. USADF continues to target vulnerable and underserved communities, including youth and children. Like the 4-H program in the United States, we prepare young people to make a positive impact in their communities and the world. Like our partners in 4-H Liberia, we hope to foster youth appreciation for agriculture, food security and community-led prosperity. Our joy is embedded in the hope and opportunities that will open up to African children, armed with the right tools for success in their communities and across the continent as a whole. To see updates on 4-H Liberia’s work, check out their Facebook page.