On Thursday, February 9, the U.S. Mission through USAID launched Hope for a Better Future: Building Collaborative Resilience for Youth in Liberia, a five-year project that supports post-conflict psychological trauma healing and resilience at both the individual and community levels. The program will focus on three counties that saw some of the worst fighting during Liberia’s civil war — Nimba, Grand Gedeh, and Maryland. It targets more than 20,000 vulnerable youth (aged 15-35) suffering from trauma-related issues because of witnessing the horrors of the conflict themselves, or being raised by parents who were traumatized by the war. The project aims to engage these youth and their communities in activities that promote conflict avoidance and resolution, impulse control, and collaborative reasoning and problem solving. This will help to strengthen the capacity of individuals and communities to work through trauma and jointly find local solutions to local problems. The project is now piloting this approach in Nimba, before expanding to the other two counties.
Kennesaw State University (KSU), located near Atlanta, Georgia, is implementing the project in partnership with local organizations, including two prominent Liberian institutions – the University of Liberia’s Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation and the National Commission for Justice, Peace and Caritas. They will help design conflict resolution and trauma healing practices that accommodate local preferences and that will be sustainable beyond the five-year program.
Speaking during the project launch in Ganta on Thursday, February 9, USAID/Liberia Mission Director Jim Wright hailed the project’s use of “local voices with unique insights on solving local challenges.” Dr. Volker Franke, Professor of Conflict Management at KSU, and the Project’s Principal Researcher stated, “together with USAID and the people of Liberia, our ultimate goal is to create an inclusive enabling environment where local solutions can grow, be supported and sustained.” Nimba County Superintendent Nelson Korquoi thanked USAID for its “continued strong support to Nimba, Liberia.”