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YAD Launches Campaign Against Ethnic Voting!

YAD Launches Campaign Against Ethnic Voting!

Youth in Action for Development (YAD), a non-governmental organization operating the eastern district of Kenema, on Tuesday July 23, 2013 officially launched a new project titled “Youth Sensitization Campaign against Ethnic Voting, Religious and Cultural Discrimination in Sierra Leone”.  According to the organization’s Coordinator, Othman Sheriff, the project is funded by the United Nations Alliance of Civilization (UNAOC) – Youth Solidarity Fund 2013. (Photo: R-L: Othman Sheriff, Hon. Saidu Mansaray, Hon. Francis A. Kaisamba, the Deputy Mayor, Mad. Esther G. Kaisamba )

In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Mambu  Yarjah welcomed all to the program describing Youth in Action for Development (YAD) as one of the forefront  youth organizations working tirelessly to project the interest of Sierra Leonean youths in the world stage.  He further called on stakeholders and beneficiaries of the project to underpin YAD’s effort to sustain the project after it’s officially implementation period which begins form July to December 2013.

Giving the background of the organization and project, the Project Coordinator of Youth in Action for Development (YAD), Mr. Othman Sherriff said YAD is an apolitical, non-religious, non-ethnic, non-gender-based, non-profitmaking organization with its effort geared towards eradicating some of the socio-economic  problems faced by the youths, women and children in the region.

Mr. Sheriff further revealed that  the main mission of YAD is to work with the youth and for the youth at grassroots level to complement the effort of the central government to maintain peace, democracy and sustainable development in the region by fostering socio-cultural cohesion and friendly network among the youth, engage them in education, skill-training and self-help ventures and to protect them from human-right violations.  He further added that YAD’s board consist of civil servants, traditional authorities, school teachers, medical personnel and tertiary students. He said that over the years, the organization has been able to implement series of developmental projects in the Nyawa and Malegohun chiefdoms in Kenema district including agriculture and food security for youth and female heading households, road rehabilitation, construction of school and sport among others.

Othman Sheriff reiterated that the current project which is being launched is called “Youth Sensitization against Ethnic Voting, Religious and Cultural Discrimination in Sierra Leone” and is being funded by the United Nation Alliance of Civilization (UNAOC). He said it all came after he decided to develop a proposal on the project in January this year.  According to him, the project was approved after a very competitive selection and review process at the UN Headquarters in New York. According to officials in charged, more than 500 applications were received by United Nations early this year and the independent selection and review committee was able to select only 35 proposal among the rest and named them semi-finalists.  The semi-finalists were then asked to submit relevant documents and clarifications to support various claims made in their proposals. After verification of those supporting documents, only 16 organizations, including Youth in Action for Development, were fortunate to be selected as the finalists and winners of the UNAOC’s Youth Solidarity Fund 2013.  It must be noted that Youth in Action for Development was the only Sierra Leonean organization that has ever been able to go through the densely competitive project proposal assessment and review process.

Mr. Sheriff said in line with the specific objectives and outputs spelt out in the proposal, three youth groups namely the Gbo-Kakajama Youths Inaction for Progress, Nyandeyama Youth in Action for Development and Action Star Sport Club have been established in the three political zones of Kenema municipality with more than 200 membership.

Delivering her address, the Deputy Mayor of Kenema City Council Mad. Esther Guanya Kaisamba, said that the launching of the “Youth Sensitization Campaign against Ethnic Voting, Religious and Cultural Discrimination in Sierra Leone” is a very important one as it is the order of the day in Sierra Leone that the average voter doesn’t cast their votes for policy but individual identity.  She further called on the youth to stop voting on ethnic, religion and cultural sentiment as the youth have very important role to play in electioneering process and that as a council, they will always give support to the Youth in Action for Development during the course of implementation.

The representative of the Paramount Chief of Nongowa Chiefdom, Chief Komba D Kamanda of Kono tribal head Kenema district said as tribal authorities, they will give their support to Youth in Action for Development and call on the youth to always called on them when the needs arises.

Delivering his statement the representative of members of parliament in  the three political zones of the Kenema  city,  Hon. Francis Amara Kaisamba of Constituency 010 thank the project Coordinator for bringing such project in  Sierra Leone  adding that ethnic division also exist in other countries like the United State of America but of a different standard  and not like in Sierra Leone where people vote on ethnicity  stating an example on the west/north belonging to the ruling APC and south/east belonging to opposition SLPP. Hon. Kaisamba further admonished the youth to look at the topic and deviate from voting on ethnic bases and called on colleague MPs to give support to the project for each continuity.

Emmanuel Farma who represent the Ministry of Youth and Sport, thank the project Coordinator and his team for bringing such project for the youths and called on the youth to focus on development issues now that Youth in Action for Development has brought about the initiative.

Delivering vote of thanks on behalf of the various youth groups,  Mariama Robert stated that she it has  always been her insatiable desire to see the interest of the Kenema youth being projected at the world stage and to see all of them come together under one umbrella in the name of unity and solidarity at grassroots level.

Mariama further stated that “I would also like to seize this opportunity, on behalf of my fellow youths,  to request all stakeholders to underpin YAD‘s effort in the implementation process of this very important project.  I wish to see the youths of Kenema and Sierra Leone at large casting their votes in future elections for valuable policies and not for identities. I also wish to see my fellow youths being granted the chance to enjoy their basic human rights including the right of association, religion and conscience. I would also like to see fellow youths, especially the women, being allowed by their respective parents to marry their desired husbands regardless religious, cultural or ethnic backgrounds”.

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