By Mohamed Massaquoi
A non-governmental organization, Youth in Action for Development (YAD), last week ended a symposium on “youths, ethnic voting and cultural discrimination” at the Holy Trinity Parish hall in Kenema.
The conference brought together youth groups from various parts of Kenema to frankly discuss issues surrounding voting patterns especially in the 2012 general elections.
Giving an overview of the programme, YAD’s National Coordinator Othman Sheriff said the organization is an indigenous, voluntary, non-governmental youth organization founded in 2008 to promote youth empowerment, gender equality, entrepreneurship, leadership skills through advocacy and capacity building for both young women and men.
He said youth development is a process that prepares young people to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through a coordinated, progressive series of activities and experiences which help them to gain skills and competencies.
He said YAD has over the years served as a channel to propagate the voice of youths and has become a valued partner in initiating United Nations work on youth and democratic governance in Sierra Leone, funded by the United Nations Alliance of Civilization (UNAOC) Youth Solidarity Fund 2013.
In his opening remarks, chairman of the occasion, Mr. Mambu Yajah, said YAD was one of the forefront youth organizations working tirelessly to promote the interest of Sierra Leonean youths. He called on stakeholders and beneficiaries of the project to underpin YAD’s effort to sustain the project.
“YAD is apolitical, non-religious, non-ethnic, non-gender based and nonprofit making organization with its effort geared towards eradicating some of the socio-economic problems faced by youths, women and children in the Kenema district,” noted Mr. Yajah. “Our mission is to work with the youth and for the youth at grassroots level to complement the effort of the central government to maintain peace, democracy and sustainable development in the region by fostering socio-cultural cohesion and friendly network among the youth.”
He added that over the years the organization has been able to implement series of developmental projects in the Nyawa and Malegohun chiefdoms in the Kenema district.
Delivering her keynote address, Deputy Mayor of the Kenema City Council, Esther Guanya Kaisamba, said the launch of the youth campaign was very important for the development of young people across the country.
She called on the youths to stop voting on ethnic, religious and cultural sentiments as they have very important role to play in the electioneering process. She pledged her council’s support to YAD during the implementation phase.