By Emmanuel Godfrey (YES 2015-2016, Liberia, placed with AFS-USA in Cumberland Center, ME)
Poverty and unemployment rates are high in Liberia. The primary reason behind this is the lack of access to quality education and educational opportunities. As a result, many students graduate from high schools and universities with limited skills and very few career options and job opportunities. Many young people in Liberia look up to the government to provide jobs and other employment opportunities. As result, many are unemployed because the government can only employ a limited number of people; the majority have to work in the private sector either as employers or employees.
It is from this background that Partners for Education – Liberia, a non-profit, non-governmental organization of which I am a founder, was established back in 2016, when I won a WYLET Alumni Grant award to provide teaching assistance to teachers and English tutoring to students. Our team has designed and implemented several projects with assistance from the YES Alumni grants program, the WYLET grant programs, the U.S. Embassy in Liberia, iEARN-Liberia, and people from my host state of Maine in the U.S. Some programs implemented by the team include: the Workshop for Effective English Teaching and Speaking (WEETAS), the Restoring the Education Hope (REH), and the Clean and Green Cities Project. The organization works to promote quality education, effective and transparent leadership, and innovation.
During the months of October and November 2020, I led a virtual career training program for youth in Liberia. We designed and implemented the Career Summit with the aim of exposing youths to a variety of career options and innovations. The career summit, which took place online via Zoom, inspired 20 young people to create employment opportunities for themselves and others. The program invited young entrepreneurs and business executives from the U.S., Nigeria, Liberia, Pakistan, and other countries to speak at the virtual event. Some of the speakers were YES Alumni. Our volunteer speakers are youth who have found success in their careers, some are founders and owners of companies who are making an impact on humanity, and others hold top management positions in their various industries. They shared their success stories with participants and encouraged them to create jobs so that they can contribute to reducing Liberia’s level of poverty. We are so grateful to our volunteer speaker for making the program a successful one.
Throughout the summit, the participants learned many new skills such as interviewing skills, how to write letters and resumes, finding exciting careers, and leadership and team-building skills. After completion of the program, participants are now prepared to face challenges and create new innovations. The summit encouraged participants to share their innovative ideas; it was not a surprise to know that participants have developed their own ideas of solutions to community problems. The summit helped participants turn their solutions into business ideas that would enable them to create jobs for others. This summit taught my team and me an important lesson: “there should be no reason for not giving back to humanity.”
I also want to thank the YES program. I can say that the YES program is the "big bang" of my life: it opened my eyes so that I can see clearly the ways in which ways I can be contributing to humanity. It is my hope that my organization can work towards achieving different Sustainable Development Goals in Liberia by 2030.