Our OD Young Person of the Month is Augustine Macarthy from Sierra Leone. Augustine is an International development professional. He currently serves as the Founder/Executive Director of Movement towards Education and Youth Empowerment-Sierra Leone (MEYE-SL), through this organization he has been able to lead many youth programmes that help promote peace, educational support, social justice and economic approaches towards youth empowerment and poverty reduction. He has helped to develop and advocate for programmes that foster an environment where future entrepreneurial and community leaders can thrive and create jobs and community projects that wage peace in their communities. The impact of his roles and interventions has helped in seeing a major shift in the dominant method of addressing contemporary issues dealing with youth unemployment, leadership, conflicts, and security issues amongst youth in Sierra Leone.
Read his amazing story below and be inspired.
Augustine has over five years of successful track record in development and poverty reduction, with significant experience in child protection, peace building and sustainable development for young people and currently serves as the Founder/Executive Director of Movement towards Education and Youth Empowerment-Sierra Leone (MEYE-SL), through this organization he has been able to lead many youth programmes that help promote peace, educational support, social justice and economic approaches towards youth empowerment and poverty reduction.
He has helped to develop and advocate for programmes that foster an environment where future entrepreneurial and community leaders can thrive and create jobs and community projects that wage peace in their communities. The impact of his roles and interventions has helped in seeing a major shift in the dominant method of addressing contemporary issues dealing with youth unemployment, leadership, conflicts, and security issues amongst youth in Sierra Leone.
He has also worked for and collaborated with some of the finest and brightest youth leaders and organizations within Sierra Leone and around the world. He is a member of Young Africa Leaders Initiative, Royal Commonwealth Society, West African Course on Human Rights and Drug Policy, Yes 4 Humanity, International Youth Parliament, African Union (Youth 4 Peace). Augustine is passionate to support communities to capitalize on their own values and assets. He has been driven by his commitment to a self-reliant society with a good working environment and quality education for the less privileged.
On How He Began
In June, 2017, Augustine participated in a five days baseline data collection survey on the vulnerability status of children and young people in ten underprivileged rural communities in Kori Chiefdom, Moyamba District, Sierra Leone. Based on the survey analysis, they found that about 3,665–(65.8%) out of the (5,570) children and young people targeted during the survey were not getting the required support to access education, skills training opportunities, job creation opportunities in order for them to become empowered and be the agents of change we wish to see in their various communities in the near future. Based on this data analysis about 2,439-(43.8%) of them live in extreme poverty and about 2,077–(37.3%) have encountered sexual exploitation, social exclusion, expose to disease, drugs abuse and have experienced violence, from the past eleven years brutal civil war in Sierra Leone which led to so many losses of lives and properties.
These worrying statistics and the extent of poverty in these communities made Augustine realize that he needed to take action. He considered it appropriate to serve as an active citizen in helping to develop these underprivileged youth and children into leaders, working to help them strengthen the livelihood of their various communities toward development, building on current assets, and assisting them in having a successful future. This is because he has experience and a successful track record in development, child protection, and youth empowerment. With this, Augustine also expressed his desire to start a project that has been assisting and helping to increase the number of vulnerable children and young people to access education, entrepreneurship skills training, and peacebuilding programs that enable them to realize their dreams and equip them with the courage and self-confidence to better themselves, families, communities, and ultimately their next generation.
On His Successes
This initiative that Augustine launched has inspired and empowered 879 (447 males – 432 females) less privileged, women, youths, and children who has fully benefited from our activities, through access to education for less privileged children, peacebuilding programmes, economic empowerment, violence reduction, conflict resolution, youth empowerment, togetherness, and peacebuilding. This aided in their development as innovators, entrepreneurs, and community leaders. Our early childhood education has helped to reinforce the rights of 178 (93 boys – 85 girls) children affected by violence, neglect, and social exclusion with an opportunity to access quality education. This school support programme has ignited much interest amongst vulnerable children towards education in Kori Chiefdom, Moyamba district. This initiative has taught them how to prevent illness and improve overall health, build, and maintain infrastructure, manage personal and professional relationships, understand, and advocate for basic rights, and secure their livelihoods.
The peacebuilding initiative has helped to transform 456 (231 males – 225 females) young people into effective peacebuilders in their schools and communities. It has further helped in removing some of the roadblocks faced by young people that normally serve as barriers for them to expose their peacebuilding potentials. This builds bridges that strengthen their peacebuilding capacities as they too have been helping to share their peacebuilding experiences derived from the peace club trainings with their fellow colleagues in schools and communities. The entrepreneurship initiative has helps empowered 245 (123 males – 122 females) youths and women to accept entrepreneurship as a major job creator, that should be accountable for so many private job creations and to also serve as a powerful driver for future economic growth in helping our country to be more prosperous and peaceful. It has further help youth participants to develop socio-economic knowledge in catering, build-up resilience to ownership and self-employment in owning their own businesses.
On His Challenges And Future Plans
Augustine says that his organization, the Movement towards Education and Youth Empowerment-Sierra Leone (MEYE-SL) has been operating within limited and inadequate resources generated by our monthly membership fee, online fundraising, small grants from partners and stakeholders. Due to broader community, INGOs, and other bigger organizations computing for funds in these dire economic times, the ability for upcoming youth-led organizations such as ours to get the adequate support and resources necessary to reach our full potentials is imperiled and this has really limited the potentials of their civil action and operations in creating more impact in the community. The organization had to launch a local monthly and annual fundraising sponsorship donation plan to encourage potential sponsors to join our organization as members and make regular contributions. This aids in generating funds to support the organization’s goals and activities.
Augustine’s future plans for his project are to focus on establishing sustainable measures that strengthen the rights and empowerment of more underprivileged rural families, youth, women, and children to support community-led structures that meet the needs of this demographic particularly those who experience violence, loss of education, drug abuse, unemployment, exploitation, and neglect as a result of harmful traditional practices and other social factors limiting them from realizing their full potential. He also wants to establish collaboration with community stakeholders and government line ministries at community level, improved connections between formal structures and community-led organizations like schools, child welfare committees, village development committees, Moyamba District Educational Committee, and Youth groups. This will aid in the creation of community action plans that are incorporated into district development plans by local councils, creating pathways for local government scrutiny and support and ensuring that the results for our beneficiaries and their communities are sustained.
His Words of Advice For The Youths
Many young people firmly believe that their needs and goals have not been met because they have not been included in decision-making processes that directly influence their lives in our diverse communities throughout the world. My suggestion to your people who want to make a positive effect in their communities is to continue acting as engaged citizens who contribute to the creation of initiatives and projects that strengthen their various communities. They ought to keep striving to support the development of their respective communities’ livelihoods in order to build on their current resources and help them secure a prosperous future for their people.
You can check out Augustine’s project on their Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Also connect personally with Augustine on Facebook and LinkedIn.
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