29 years old Nana Karyea of King Gray in Monrovia, dropped out of the 5th grade in 1999 and is a victim of Gender Based Violence (GBV). Nana has four children. The father of the first child parted ways with her back in the day, but her ordeal started with the second man whom she lived with for 11years.
As narrated, she experienced abuse from the father of her three additional children-ages 5, 8 and 11. In fact, she has had two miscarriages from the beatings. Nana also showed scars of the violence visible in her hair and on her left hand.
As a result, she found herself in ghettos, night clubs and the streets engaged in excessive drinking, consumption of illicit substances and sex work.
According to her, she also did odd jobs to get money to sustain herself. “I was so frustrated, I had to get out of this relationship. I use to even help people do house work, fetch water to get little money,” Nana explained.
Nana is among more than 150 disadvantaged youth selected to benefit from an 18-month pilot project- “the Socio-Economic Empowerment of Disadvantaged (SEED) Youth in Liberia”.
Funded by the UN Peace-Building Support Office under the Liberia Multi-Partner Trust Fund (LMPTF) it is being implemented through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in collaboration with the Government of Liberia, in partnership with the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD).
SEED targets 500 youth at risk within Montserrado County and meant for those mostly found in ghettos, street corners, cemeteries, and other unfit dwellings. Many are on drugs and other illicit substances.
They face these circumstances for different reasons, including peer pressure, Gender Based Violence (GBV), abuse, and trauma from a bad experience.
With the commencement of activities under the SEED Project, Nana has completed the first phase of the Psycho-social counseling provided by YWCA and was enrolled in the training on Business Management and Entrepreneurship (BMEs) skills.
As these young people go through the programme, they have expressed interests in plumbing, tailoring, the military, IT, graphic design, and hair dressing etc.
“My life has been a complete mess. I’ve been involved in smoking, drinking, sex work etc. Since the introduction of this program, I’ve decided to be a better person. I went through the counselling and believe I can change. It’s not easy, but I’m sure that changes will come,” Nana noted.
There is also the vocational skills and savings and loan components focused on building their skills in team-work, social cohesion and savings to improve self-development, livelihoods and income while supporting positive community growth. Nana says she’s interested in hair dressing. “I see my friends making money out of hair dressing. I know I can do the same and get my shop open one day as long as I keep focus”
Willet Salu of CAFOD says, disadvantaged youths are at different educational levels, including high school, college but mostly elementary school dropouts. ”The dropouts are provided with Adult and financial literacy training to improve their numeracy and literacy skills, to fully grasp lessons on Business Management and Entrepreneurship,” says Willet.
They are divided into groups of 25, targeting New Kru Town, King Gray, Thinker’s Village, and Red-light, where beneficiaries are performing well and regularly attending the sessions, while for Central Monrovia, it’s a bit slow due to the attraction of other activities for the same group of people.
It is estimated that 79% of Liberia’s population is comprised of young people between the ages of 15 and 36 with at least 85% of them unemployed due to lack of education and skills which limits their chances of accessing social, economic and political opportunities.