[Photo by IDEFOCS, August 2013]
The Initiative for the Development of Former Child soldiers (IDEFOCS) saw the need to conduct a Ghetto Outreach Program in order to map up current former child soldiers, women associated with fighting forces and other war affected youths who are currently under the influence of psychoactive substance and what could possibly reduce their addictiveness to illicit substance and involvement with crimes and violence.
The program started July 28 and ended on July 31 2013 and addressed the Turtle Base Ghetto in Monrovia, Liberia. The first day was focusing on awareness activities in the ghetto. Questions were asked and the staff of IDEFOCS addressed those questions and gave detail information about the project objective to ghetto boys, girls and pedestrians.
On July 29, eight (8) volunteers were trained to conduct the 21 Century FCS and WAFF survey three girls and five boys. The training had two phases: the first phase covered the introductory part of the survey and going through the questionnaires of the survey from.. The second phase was practical where participants interviewed one another going through the 42 questions in the survey. One girl and one boy who lived in the Turtle Ghetto were part of the training. The training was conducted by Brocks Pokai and Morris Matadi of IDEFOCS.
On July 30, IDEFOCS hosted a dance competition that created more awareness about the forum and survey that were to be conducted on the next day July 31. Morris Matadi shared his channel of change as former child soldiers and more about IDEFOCS mission. At the end of the competition, prices were given to the first, second and third winner both children and adult. At the end of the program, more than 100 ghetto girls and boys had a meal.
On July 31 an Interactive session was the most successful strategy used to incorporate the views and recommendations of people involve with substance use, crime and violence. The program started 10:00am and ended 6:00pm. This method provided a space for former child soldiers, women associated with fighting forces and other war affected individuals to learn and share possible recommendations to eradicating the many social reintegration challenges they are faced with. The training session was fully participatory. Representatives from the John F. Kennedy Medical Trauma Healing Center in Liberia spoke from 11:00am to 1:00pm and provided a special session educating our targeted beneficiaries on the danger of illicit substance and that they can become good citizens again to contribute to the development of Liberia. Vulate J. Hage, a community leader and a Lawyer who works with the National Oil Company, spoke on behavioural change from 1:00pm-2:30pm in which she highlighted the wiliness of one to change remains the power and secret of change. In this session, FCS, WAFF and other war affected youth were able to express their desire to change and challenges that stand as barrels in their decision making process for change.
After madam Vulate spoke, the implementation of the 21 century FCS and WAFF survey took over the next session of the program. This session of the forum ran from 2:30pm – 6:00pm that which was the most important activity of the entire program. Eight volunteers of IDEFOCS were placed to survey 20 FCS, WAFF and other war affected youth, addressing 7 pages with 42 questionnaires concerning their personal background, recruitment, DDRR assessment, current circumstances and health status. The survey was able to identify 8 girls 12 boys. After the Survey, more than 75 ghetto girls and boys had meal which finally brought an end to the implementation of the IDEFOCS Ghetto Outreach Forum.
The target beneficiaries were 20 Former Child soldiers, Women Associated with fighting Forces and War Affected Youths including drug users. These 20 Youths are now Target Partners in the Action10 IDEFOCS joint program and we welcome you into our family. We will stay together, get to know each other more and continue our collaboration.