By Mark N. Mengonfia
Very soon, if an urgent attention is not paid towards the rehabilitation of Zogos’ or outcast youth, the city may be plunged into serious problem when the over 500 Ghetto boys in Paynesville embark on demonstration to draw government’s attention.
Already, they are expressing frustration over the life they are living and feel that they have been abandoned by government and the various local and international Non-governmental organizations.
“We are working with over 500 coordinated ghettoes in just Paynesville with the aim to draw attention of the Liberian government to our plight,” Chie Diamond Johnson, head of the “Five Stars 704 Ghetto in Duport Road told this paper in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
He said once they succeed in coordinating all of the ghettoes and make their colleagues know that it is the responsibility of the Liberian government to ensure that they are rehabilitated, they will take to the street to demand their government to look after them.
He indicated that their first convention will be held on August 1st 2020 after which they will send a message to the Liberian government through a mass protest.
According to Johnson, he and others who find themselves into such a bad lifestyle are caught-up in a web, hoping for someone to come to their aid and deliver them from the dilemma they are faced with.
Diamond Johnson said; “There is an increase in the number of young people who go to the ghettoes. New people join us every day. The time is coming that we will go on strike for the rehabilitation of our brothers and sisters.”
He reminded the government that if they build all the decent structures and forget about those of them in the street, they are not doing well for the society, because those structures are at risk at any time because many of them as limited.
“Defiantly I tell you this, if they forget to rehabilitate us after many years, it will be a serious threat to the society because these say people will bring down those structures” Diamond indicated.
As he spoke, some of his friends stood in complete bewilderment as if the reporter was a strange object who has gone into their ‘kingdom’.
The Chief Executive officer of Voices of the Ghettoes is a graduate of the Konola Seventh Day Adventist High School on the Bong, Margibi highway. He spoke eloquently with good points. The name usually they call them is ‘zogos, or outcast. He is not happy for him to be called with such name, but he has no choice.
He added, “although our parents have rejected us, but the society is all we have. So we want people who have us at heart to come to our aid; people who feel this pain to come and help. This is a sickness, you will not understand, but people who been through this kind of life know what I am saying.”
Liberia ended 14 years of war in 2003. This followed the deployment of the largest United Nations Peace keeping force in the world-UNMIL.
The deployment followed disarmament of over 100,000 ex-combatants and collected more than 20,000 weapons and more than five millions of ammunition, according to UNMIL report. According to its report, it spent US$16.4million in quick impact projects and several millions of dollars on disarmament.
The Liberian government allocates several thousands of United States dollars towards welfare and rehabilitation. But nothing substantive is said to be seen. This has been ongoing from the past regime of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The ministry of youth and Sport has a section responsible for rehabilitation. But there was no comment from the ministry as no one was available for comment.
Speaking passionately about their plight, Diamond said, “I tell you my brother, we are tired of NGOs using us to accomplish their missions, presenting false statistics to their partners that they are catering to Ghetto boys and girls; this needs to change.”
Pointing his hand to some of the places they sleep, he said, “we are vulnerable my brother, the first time you came here, I never wanted to grant this interview because people are using us to be making money and we are now saying no to it.”
He said, they need patriotic people who will feel their pain and not those who will use them as a rolling stone to enrich themselves in the name of seeking the welfare of disadvantaged young people.
Diamond indicated that because of the action of some non-governmental organizations, they (ghettoes dwellers) have organized themselves into an organization name “Voices of the Ghettoes” an institution he said is intended to advocate for the rehabilitation of their colleagues to get a new life and status in the Liberian society.
According to him, their protest will not be a violent one, but a gathering that will ensure that Liberian government looks to them.
Nearly all of those who contested in the just ended general and presidential elections of 2017 highlighted the rehabilitation of disadvantaged young people, they were frequently visited, played games with them. But after their victories, rarely do they visit them.
“I do not want to speak much about politicians because they do not have time for us,” adding that majority of the people who voted for the Weah led administration were all young people. TNR