The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has launched its “Let’s Talk Peace Campaign” as part of the organization’s Youth for Peace (Y4P) Activity in Liberia.
With support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the initiative which was under the theme: “End Violence, Build Peace” is intended to provide a platform that will enable Liberians become Ambassadors of peace during and after elections in the country.
The campaign which will roll out in several intellectual centers will also ensure disadvantaged youths, motorcyclists, kehkeh riders, business men and women and people living with disability are able to interact with duty bearers and their peers in denouncing violence and promote the tenet of peace.
CRS began working in Liberia in 1957, with a permanent country program office opening in 1990. And during the ensuing 14 plus years of conflict and war, CRS was one of the few agencies to maintain a constant presence in the country, providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to tens of thousands of people.
Additionally, CRS and partners focused increasingly on reconstruction and development activities, working in health, agriculture, livelihoods, peace and justice, and micro-savings, responding to the new challenges faced by a peaceful and developing country.
Officially launching the “Let’s Talk Peace Campaign” at the Center for the Exchange of Intellectual Opinions (CEO) in Monrovia, USAID Deputy Director –DRG Office, Mandy Dagold thanked the CRS for initiating the “Let’s Talk Peace” campaign, something she said will improve the interaction between ordinary Liberians, duty bearers, locally elected and appointed authorities.
According to her, the need for more public talks, nonviolent interactions, and peace-promoting with less than nine months away from the General and Presidential Elections in Liberia cannot be overemphasized.
“Our desire is for social cohesiveness and peace to prevail in every community, and we are pleased to support local initiatives that work toward this goal. So, it is important to emphasize that events like these provide an opportunity for regular folks to interact with stakeholders in person and offer their thoughts, advice, views, or recommendations,” she stated.
Madam Dagold added, “As Liberia is becoming more and more politically charged, it is necessary to enlighten the minds of individuals on how we can all desist from violent extremism, and the USAID remain open and look forward to future engagements and collaborations as we are set to scale up peace efforts this year.”
Earlier, CRS Country Manager, Abena Amedormey stated that her organization (CRS) Liberia is working closely with the Liberian Government through the Liberia Peace Building Office (LPB0), to contribute to sustaining peace in Liberia.
This, she maintained that the country’s program is supporting the Government’s efforts to successfully implement Pillar-III of its Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), sustaining the peace, and the National Strategic Roadmap to Peace, Healing, and Reconciliation.
According to her, the Let’s Talk Peace Campaign will be one of the activities implemented by CRS and partners to engage the intellectual class of Liberia to help articulate solutions to the emerging issues of conflict before, during and after the General and Presidential Elections.
The CRS Country Representative emphasized, “So, it is my hope we use this platform to remind us that peace starts with each of us finding personal peace because from every individual to family and Community, we all have a critical role to play in defeating violence and creating a culture of peace in this country.”
“This work cannot be left to governments or international organizations alone. It is also our responsibility to speak out against prejudice, discrimination, and other actions that may lead to violence. Being silent in the face of injustice allows violence to continue.
“Finally, using your intellectual ability and engaging in critical thinking, research, and reflection about the reality of society, and proposing solutions rather than problems for the normative problems our society is faced with will help to defend a concrete proposition or to denounce any form of injustice that may lead to violence before, during and after elections,” she added.
Madam Amedormey then pledged the CRS’ fullest commitment to engaging young people, women, and intellectuals to ensure Liberia today and tomorrow is stronger than yesterday, while at the same time extolled the USAID for the numerous supports towards the CRS.
Meanwhile, serving as the keynote speaker, Messenger for Peace Executive Director, Gwendolyn Myers stressed that youth involvement and participation in peace building efforts are often passive, uninformed and selective, and stated, “There is also a lack of trust, transparency, and accountability among people, therefore, the tendency to talk less.”
She explained that people, especially young people and women, are expressing frustration around issues central to SDGs, unemployment, inequality, corruption, violence against girls and women, and many more of which government are reneging to address.
Myers added, “So, our obligation to sustainable peace should be to crate space for peace, dialogue, mediation, and arbitration. Let’s talk about peace should also invest in our social lives and foster connection, engagement and it should start with us talking to families, friends, colleagues and peers to establish social fitness.”
“Because talking peace is not loud enough, but if we are persistent and hopeful, we can improve things. Being generous, loving, non-judgmental, and discerning about whom we follow and what we say is about peace,” she averred.
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