Barely a month after the government of Liberia and its partners launched the National Fund Drive for the Rehabilitation of “At-Risk Youths” in Liberia, several disadvantaged youths in Monrovia expressed concern over the government’s delay in beginning the project.
Speaking in the slum community of Soniewein on Johnson Street in Central Monrovia, an affected young person identified as Patrick Korvah noted that their being on the street is due to the national government’s failure to provide job opportunities, capacity-building workshops and access to quality education among others.
Korvah continued, stating that public officials are corrupt and self-interest seekers who are only concerned with themselves and their families, leaving the majority to suffer.
According to him, young people are the future of Liberia, and as such, the government of Liberia should pay keen attention to improving their because “without the youth, Liberia have no future.”
“The government officers in our country Liberia steal our money and save it in America, or other developed countries, send their children out of the country with our money, while we the masses are left to suffer. No job for youths in the country, so some of us find ourselves taking drugs because of frustration,” he said.
“I have been living on the street for ten years as I have tried my best to get a better life but only to see myself living such a life I have no place to sleep; I sleep from ghetto to ghetto,” Patrick maintained.
Also speaking, another disadvantaged youth identified as Rita Williams alleged that the country’s Legislature, Executive and other arms of government only identify with them when the country is nearing elections like the 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections expected to be conducted in October of 2023.
“Those people are very wicked. They don’t count us as human beings at all in this country only because we are Zogos, as the way they call us. Whenever you see some of them coming donating clothes, food and giving us money, you should know that election is coming and they need our votes.”
“I am a young woman with talent, and I contribute to the growth and development of my country Liberia but how will I when the people we give the power to help us change our lives are even the ones that cause us to remain like this? We are not satisfied with our living conditions, and we are calling on them to come to our rescue.”
In Liberia, young people constitute over 65% of the country’s 4.5 million population. In the Liberian context, zogo is a word used to denote disadvantaged young people, usually aged between 15 to 35 years old. Many of them have been accused of thievery and sometimes physically attacking or harassing pedestrians for money to survive.
The rise in disadvantaged young people (zogos) is a challenge currently bedevilling the country.
This menace continues to threaten public safety and security. The fact is Liberia; the oldest West African independent nation, has more to do to liberate its youthful population from this nuisance of illicit drugs addiction that threatens to devastate the peace and security of the country, as well as reverse the gains made over time in restoring peace in Liberia after the 14 years of fighting one another.
Many young people in the country lack access to adequate shelter, forcing a majority of them to seek refuge in ghettos, cemeteries, shanty structures, street corners, and market buildings at night. As a result of this, the continuous abuse of illicit drugs and substances continues to devastate their lives.
As a result, young people continue to call the government’s attention to the growing problem, urging them to take urgent action by implementing the Rehabilitation of At-Risk Youths project, for which a fundraising drive has already taken place.
This report was prepared by members of the third group of students trained during a Campus Reporter training project held in Liberia in August 2022
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