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The non-profit organization West African Youth Agenda Against Corrupt Practices was started by Mohamad Tarawalley, an ethnic Mende man from Sierra Leone who spent most of his life in Monrovia, Liberia. I met Mr. Tarawalley, who goes by the name Sparo, while doing pre-dissertation research on gender based violence initiatives in Liberia. After many long and inspiring conversations, I agreed to serve on the board of his organization.

Sparo is a profoundly intelligent and well-spoken man whose life path has reflected the tumultuous history of civil war and conflict in West Africa over the last two decades. His college education in Freetown, Sierra Leone was cut short by RUF fighters who destroyed Fourah Bay College during the civil war. Sparo was pressed by circumstance and survival, like so many young men in the region, into a decade-long career as a combatant both in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Today, he lives peacefully with his family just north of Monrovia, where he is working very hard to make life better, not just for himself, but for all Liberians, by founding the West African Youth Agenda Against Corrupt Practices.

Sparo knows that the energy and organizing of disaffected youth, who were largely shut out from educational and employment opportunities, contributed greatly to violence and instability in both Sierra Leone and Liberia. Youth who feel they have few prospects in life can be much more easily pressed into violent, illegal, but relatively lucrative careers like soldiering and smuggling. Today, Sparo feels that both Liberia and Sierra Leone are at a turning point; with needed attention, education, and opportunities, youth can be a vital force of development and democracy in the region. However, to miss this opportunity to organize youth for positive change could be disastrous.

We will be reaching out to raise money for WAYAACP in the next few months as we move forward with initial projects. We have already begun a small cassava cultivation project to build our track record, but we will need additional funds to get more educational and training programs off the ground.  Keep checking back, or sign up for a WAYAACP news feed, to keep up on exciting developments!

Best wishes,

Mari Quenemoen

Get Ready!!!

Live from the Mano River Basin …

… More background information about WAYAACP’s development and our rationale to come soon …

…. Get excited for our exciting new programs to bring a fresh breath of accountability and transparency to the leadership of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Ivory Coast!!!