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Galvanizing Efforts: Liberian Youths Unite Against Ebola

Cross section of participants at a workshop in Police Academy Community

Cross section of participants at a workshop in Police Academy Community

A conglomeration of accredited grassroots youth-led development organizations as well as community volunteers has galvanized efforts to combat the widespread and unprecedented Ebola virus disease in Liberia in partnership with families, schools, communities, faith-based organizations, nongovernmental institutions, businesses, and government.

This joint initiative which is named and styled National Youth Action Against Ebola (NYAA-EVD) focuses on community mobilization, capacity building, policy advocacy, awareness and sensitization, WASH (water sanitation and hygiene) education, tracking the implementation of the Liberian government National Action Plan and its Operational Plan for Accelerated Response to Re-occurrence of Ebola Epidemic as it relates to highlighting transparency and accountability issues.

NYAA-EVD has also designed a strategic plan to assist the government and other international partners in carrying out training, public education and contact-tracing as well as explaining in simple terms what it means to be isolated, quarantined, suspected, probable, and confirmed as it pertains to the Ebola virus disease.

Launched on August 22 at the Friends of Friends Hatai Association Headquarters in Monrovia, the NYAA-EVD engages, education, and empowers a new generation of tolerant and critical thinkers of passionate volunteers. NYAA-EVD has been able to mobilize focus person in 12 counties in Liberia to join the fight against the deadly Ebola virus that has engulfed Liberia since March of this year.

NYAA-EVD creates a platform that incorporates every registered nonprofit youth-led organization alongside people of all ages and gender through a mutual voluntary partnership agreement designed to involve people and fast-track progress.

The youth-led movement also strives to enlighten and broaden the minds of people within Liberia to understand basic fact about Ebola as it relates to signs and symptoms, diagnosis, prevention and control.

James Koryor, one of the co-founders of NYAA-EVD, who spearheads Mobilization, Program & Outreach activities asserted that the ultimate goal of this youth-led anti-Ebola organization is primarily geared towards motivating and mobilizing young people to get involved in the fight against Ebola through engaging, educating and empowering people of all ages and gender.

“Living in the hardest-hit country which already accounts for about half of all cases and deaths with an exponential increase of new cases in a very short span of time; the young people who constitute over 60 percent of the population are not only at high risk, but need to be involved in the decision making process and empowered to take action in their communities without any unnecessary bureaucracy” the staunch youth anti-Ebola campaigner noted.

Koryor who is also the Executive Director of Consolidated Youth for Peace and Development recounted that since the pronouncement from the Liberian leader encouraging all citizens to join the fight in kicking Ebola out of Liberia; many young people across the country have been eager to get involved, but don’t know how and what their responsibilities are in such medical crisis.

The passionate anti-Ebola campaigner indicated: “NYAA-EVD was established to bridge the gap in bringing young people on board, harnessing their talents, and creating an enabling environment for young people to be involved, inspired and informed in eradicating the deadliest Ebola outbreak the world has ever known.”

The Coordinator for Mobilization, Program & Outreach pointed out that NYAA-EVD has initiated three training workshops and awareness in Police Academy community, Swagger Island and Clara Town community, where the youth-led anti-Ebola organization trained 210 community volunteers. The youth movement has also carried out two media outreach activities on Radio VERITAS and Truth FM with status update from Bomi, Margibi, Nimba and Grand Cape Mount respectively.

“We are doing all we can, utilizing our ideas and scarce resources without any financial or material support from any source. Consequently, I

Stephen B. Lavalah National Coordinator NYAA-Ebola

Stephen B. Lavalah National Coordinator NYAA-Ebola

would like to plea for urgent support from embassies accredited near Monrovia, local and international nonprofit organizations, and the government and people of Liberia” the youth leader requested.

Stephen B. Lavalah, a Cuttington University trained public health practitioner who heads NYAA-EVD disclosed that the outbreak of the world’s deadliest Ebola virus disease has drifted in another direction to spin out of control in an already shaky health system.

“We have got a broken public health system with very minute portion of our national budget allocated for preventive medicine and epidemiological research. As a result, our country has become the hardest-hit with many more new cases expected due to dilapidated medical infrastructures, poor public transport system, lack of training, insufficient logistics, limited number of health practitioners coupled with structural and governance problems” the National Coordinator of NYAA-EVD emphasized.

Lavalah admonished the government to adhere to its Operational Plan for Accelerated Response to Re-occurrence of Ebola Epidemic in order to

rebuild public trust and implement effective measures to weed out corruption and ensure revenue generated from the Ebola Trust Fund should to be utilized to reach the needy population.

The National Coordinator of NYAA-EVD who is also the Executive Director of Youth Exploring Solutions, a leading grassroots youth-led development organization, registered one of NYAA-EVD’s strategic plan of actions is to develop a report under the caption “Beyond Ebola: The Role to Prosperity”.

“The proposed report will proffer smart recommendations that would assist in rebuilding the health sector, boosting investment in agricultural production, exposing transparency and accountability thereby strengthening public trust, and advancing way forward to prevent further infection and another outbreak of the Ebola virus disease” the youth leader explained.

NYAA-EVD plans to carryout additional workshops in the upcoming week in Nickley Town, Virginia City and other communities across Montserrado County as well as many locations in the country.

James Koryor is the Executive Director of Consolidated Youth for Peace and Development, Liberia

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