A group of Liberians based in the United States of America has formed a National Peace and Reconciliation Initiative (NPRI) to promote peace among Liberians with the first general consultative meeting held early this week (Sunday, March 31st) in America.
According to a dispatch from the U.S., a corps of officers has been elected, with veteran Liberian playwright and educator, Dr. Joe Gbaba, as National Chairman, including Mrs. Esther Richards, National Vice Chairman, and Mr. Edward William Carter, Jr., National Secretary General, respectively.
Others elected are, Mr. Kelvin Gray, National Treasurer and Mr. Junius Smallwood, Parliamentarian. Dr. Lincoln Sie Brownell is named Chairman of the Advisory Board.
The organizing committee of the NPRI consists of 51 Liberian professionals and prominent statesmen and women trained in various disciplines.
National Chairman Dr. Gbaba says, the overarching goal of the NPRI is to provide a forum in which Liberians of diverse opinions may have an opportunity to freely exchange views on ways to achieve sustainable peace and reconciliation in Liberia.
With a motto: “Kukatonon”, which means, “WE ARE ONE” in the Kpelleh vernacular, the organization hopes to, among others, provide war trauma counseling services to post genocide Liberians worldwide; rehabilitate former combatants and child soldiers and survivors; promote gender equity and women empowerment including Liberian youth to acquire skills to enable them to earn honest livelihoods and reintegrate successfully into mainstream Liberian society.
NPRI also hopes to launch an effective national peace and reconciliation campaign throughout Liberia, using performing and visual arts in collaboration with local Liberian artists to promote peace, reconciliation and national unity as well as engage Liberian youth in peacekeeping activities and provide them scholarships and appropriate teaching and learning opportunities to advance themselves and prepare them as future leaders, while promoting voter’s education to create awareness among Liberian voters and to help them make informed decisions in the exercise of their franchise, and lastly, to promote rule of law and transitional justice in the country to ensure perpetrators of genocidal and economic crimes face the consequences of their actions.
Members of the NPRI say they hope to achieve their objectives by actively engaging Liberians at home and abroad, the international community and friends of Liberia, the United Nations system, the African Union, European Union, ECOWAS, Mano River Union, American Congress, as well as humanitarians and philanthropists organizations across the globe.
National Secretary General Edward Carter, notes that recently, Chairman Dr. Gbaba made a passionate plea to his compatriots requesting their support to join him appeal to all Liberians, the Government of Liberia and the international community, to assist in bringing the Liberian peace process back on course.
He also cautioned that it was high time post war victims and survivors of the Liberian civil wars receive medical treatment and social intervention services to address the war traumas they experienced.
Dr. Gbaba also stressed the need for the Government of Liberia to collaborate with the National Peace and Reconciliation Initiative to establish vocational and technical institutions as well as mass literacy programs that will train Liberian youth and former combatants and post war Liberian citizens to acquire some literacy competences and technical and vocational skills that may empower them to earn honest livelihoods, be aware of their constitutional rights as citizens and empower Liberians to reintegrate properly into mainstream society.
Parliamentarian Junius Smallwood, says during the meeting, several statesmen and women expressed grave concerns regarding the downward spiral the Liberian nation is heading and confirmed their commitment to give back to their motherland in whatever way they can to restore rule of law and to secure transitional justice in postwar Liberian society.
For his part, Advisory Council Chair,Dr. Lincoln Sie Brownell, vows to assist in providing services geared toward peace education as well as civic and religious education and training, while Statesman James Fasuekoi offered to ensure activities of the National Peace and Reconciliation Initiative are properly covered in the press. Dispatch
NPRI National Chairman, Dr. Joe Gbaba