Of the many lessons we hope to learn, or things that we hope to share, one of the most important is what a “CAFOD Partner” really is.
David, the Director of DBH (Don Bosco Homes), told us of the mutual respect and trust that exist between the two organisations and how CAFOD looks to their local expertise. This has been evident to me and Clare from the way we have been welcomed in Liberia, as friends and colleagues as well as visitors. We have been received with equally embracing arms by CJPS (The Centre for Justices and Peace Studies) who have stressed how important it is that this visit can influence both parties and that we can share.
It also striking that everyone we talk to, whether members of the partner organisations or not, are saying exactly the same thing. There is a real feeling – endorsed by the government’s message “Lift Liberians” – that they are seeking to empower the youth through “Generational Change”. A big part of our journey is to take back the stories of the youth of Liberia taking a leading role to the young people we work with in the UK. We hope that they too can look to lead on the issues of global social justice’ as we are trying to do through the “Step into the Gap” program this year.
It is through the church in both countries that progress can be seen surrounding this issue. Today, here in Liberia, we met Andrew, the youth co-ordinator for the Catholic Archdiocese of Monrovia, who talked about keeping faith alive, and not just thinking about it on a Sunday. He oversees (he was keen to stress ‘from a distance’) a radio station run by the young people that he works alongside. “When youth are not given a voice that is when conflict is fuelled. And I am not a youth!” he said.
For all that we have delved deep into the philosophical similarities today we have noticed a distinct cultural difference. Feeling brave, we decided to sample some Liberian delicacies, chiefly the inspirationally titled “Fufu.” My Michelin-starred taste buds could compare it only to rich, creamy, ‘Specially Selected’ mashed potato – ’cept without the rich and creamy elements or, for that matter, the potato. Amongst the “Mmmmm, this is delicious” type comments, there were mixed reviews…