“Words are inadequate to express how happy we are about the lights in our community” says Assatta Moussou, a member of the community. The Wankenedu Community which is in Quardu Gboni District in Lofa County now has a 3.5 kw solar power which has lighted all 63 homes in the community. This became possible after the 28 members youth group of the Community Livelihood and Agricultural Support (CLAS) Component of the Youth Opportunities Project (YOP), cultivated 35 acres of rice and vegetable farmland and invested the proceeds for the general benefit of their community.
“We put all our individual labor subsidies received from the project, including the benefits we got from the sales of the farm produce to buy and build the solar plant, said Fallah Kamara, the head of the youth group. Fallah is one of 10 thousand vulnerable youth targeted into CLAS by the YOP, nationwide. Of this number, 724 youth are in Lofa cultivating more than 650 acres of farmland offered voluntarily for 3 years by their host communities. By the end of the project all 10,000 targeted youth, would have participated in communal farming and life skills trainings in their respective communities.. Although, other youth groups are using the proceeds from the sale of their farm produce individually or for general income support, the youth of Wankenedu Community made a unique decision by thinking big and giving back to their community.
On March 14, 2020, the National Coordinator of YOP, Mr. Jese Bengu, the Technical Team Manager under LACE, Mr. Mohammed Nasser as well as Mr. Mack Capehart Mulbah representing the World Bank visited the community for the launch of the solar project. Speaking at the program, Mr. Bengu thanked the youth and encouraged them to keep making meaningful impact in their communities. “I am happy to be a part of the solar project launch today. Youth of this community are joining other youths from around the country to give back to their communities in meaningful ways” he added.
Officials from Lofa County Administration, the YOP Community Facilitator in Lofa (Volunteers United for Development), and nearby residents also joined the YOP Team and the World Bank in praising the youth for their efforts and thanked the government and its partners for the support.
Mr. Foday Sabola, another resident of the community said he lived in fear after the sun goes down because, his community was always dark, but now that he had light, he is not afraid anymore. “A snake attacked my daughter and wife the other time and even killed a 5 year old boy; but we did not catch the snake because it was so dark” he explained.
As for Assata, she is overjoyed because she can now join her friends to study at an adult literacy class in the community. “I can now learn, and my children now have light to study at night” she explained with a smile on her face.
Thanks to YOP, the community which is now referred to as Wankenedu or the “city in the forest” not only boast of lights but is now also food secure because of the farming activities being carried out by the youth.
“You have challenged the World Bank to continue its support to the young people in Liberia; your story will be their motivation to do better” added, Mr. Mulbah at the ceremony.
YOP is a Government of Liberia project that seeks to provide income generation opportunities for 15 thousand targeted youth across the 15 counties. It is implemented by the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS) and the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) with financial and technical support from the World Bank.