Students Present Reports on Wartime Human Rights Abuses and Their Aftermath

Sierra Leone, West Africa
13 July 2007

YHRI’s Director of International Development, Tim Bowles, and West African program director, Jay Yarsiah, wrapped up four days in Freetown today, collaborating with Foundation for International Dignity (FIND) Sierra Leone program director David Mondesila on YHRI’s first human rights leadership competition for secondary school students in the country.

On Wednesday, 11 July, Tim delivered a youth leadership and public speaking workshop to student leaders from three area secondary schools at FIND Sierra Leone’s offices. The next day, the human rights club members from these competing schools delivered papers on the current state of communities most affected by wartime human rights abuses. The Prince of Wales Secondary School presented a paper on the conditions and need for change for the amputee community. The Government Secondary Technical School’s program focused on the victims of rape and torture. The winning team from the Freetown Secondary School for Girls reported on the condition and prospects for ex-combatants and especially child soldiers. Guest speakers included Ms. Shellac Sonny Davies, executive director for the Sierra Leone Association of NGO’s (SLANGO).

In a typical statement at the close of the forum, one student wrote: “I have learned a lot since the start of this program…I promise as a child activist I will forward the message to those not fortunate to be part of this training program. I want YHRI to help us to sensitize our parents, guardians and friends living in the provinces so they too will know their basic human rights and practice them.