Love One Another Campaign-Sierra Leone (LOAC-SL) has ended several sensitization campaigns in the Western Area, Bo, Makeni, Kono and Kenema for first time voters on the just concluded general elections. The sensitization meetings targeted ‘First Time Voters through voter education on their election rights, rules, regulations and responsibilities in Sierra Leone.
LOAC has identified several reasons that have been identified as causes of violence in secondary schools and communities such as drug abuse, cultism, cliques, hate speech, general exploitation, and musical gangsterism among others.
These problems have infiltrated almost all secondary school pupils and youths nationwide, with the greater percentage being boys, aged between 15 to 22 years.
As a result, LOAC-SL intends to teach these young students how to prevent/minimize violence, manage conflicts and be good and responsible citizens by sharing the message of LOVE (Agape) that will enable and empower them to transform their lives from destructives to constructive activities.
The trainings lasted one day in each centre and catered for school pupils and teachers and youths from different walks of life. Over six hundred and fifty (650) participated in the events.
At the end of the trainings, some participants were awarded T-shirts and promotional materials to aid in their interface with their schools/communities.
According to the founder and National Director of LOAC, Dr. Christian Bell, “Senior Secondary Schools all over the country, from West to East and North to Southern regions were targeted to participate in a one-day sensitization programme on the theme, “A Call to Love for Sustainable Peace and Development in Sierra Leone” in which the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone also participated, by giving voter education on the just concluded free, fair, credible and violence free 24th June multi-tier elections.”
He recalled that prior to the meetings, correspondences were sent out to schools and other institutions informing them about their intentions, that physical visits were also made to heads of these institutions and discussions held to pave the way for the sessions intimating that schools were selected based on their strategic, academic and numerical importance within the vicinities they are located.”
According to Dr. Christian Bell, the age bracket was also a key consideration in the selection process as the need to engage first time voters was paramount, hence the need to invite Senior Secondary School pupils revealing that in other communities like Ogoo Farm and Mile 6, LOAC Focal Persons were encouraged to select youths that actually needed and would benefit from both initiatives.
He further enlightened that the rationale for the meetings is the high level of indiscipline and violence among youths, high poverty rate and underdevelopment, high rate of youth unemployment, increase in educational malpractices and low voter education knowledge on the District Block Proportional Representation System for first time voters.
Dilating on the expected outcome of the meetings, Dr. Bell disclosed that at least six hundred and fifty (650) young people were sensitized on how to become good leaders and Love Ambassadors thereby contributing meaningfully to the eradication/minimizing of violence and other menaces in society underscoring that the sensitization sessions started with trainings for Senior Secondary Schools in the Western Area in May followed by several trainings in the provinces that lasted until mid-June 2023 that ended a week prior to the June 24th elections.
He went on to inform that the sessions were all conducted in similar fashion with well-experienced speakers from both organisations as well as some external guests who served as resource persons and that in each of the sessions questions were asked especially to the ECSL facilitators.
In the Western Area, Government Model Secondary School and Annie Walsh Memorial School played host to both seminars, with pupils from other schools such as Bishop Johnson, Ahmadiyya, Rokel, Albert Academy, United Methodist Church Girls Secondary School and the Methodist Boys’ High School in attendance.
Both seminars reached over a hundred pupils, who had registered to participate for the first time in the elections.
Seminars were conducted in Kenema and Kono with a one hundred percent attendance. In Kono, the crowd had a diverse background ranging from academic to politics to business etc.
In Bo, participants were largely drawn from disabled communities and secondary schools and were mainly first time voters.
As usual, the ECSL was represented by the District Elections Manager, Mr. Saffa, who gave a resounding voter education on the Proportional Representation System that was implemented in the just concluded multi-tier elections.
At the end of the presentations, the Love One Another Campaign speaker presented a case for Sierra Leoneans to be loving and peaceful.
Senior Secondary Schools in the Makeni city like St. Francis, Birch Memorial, St. Peters etc. were all in attendance. We also had representatives from Technical/Vocational Institutions, teachers as well as traditional authorities with the ECSL Commissioner in the North as the main speaker for the event.
After every session, in each implementing area, Agape Clubs were formed, which primary aim is to reach out with the message of Love and Peace to every Sierra Leonean in their respective localities.
T. Shirts, megaphones, promotional materials and other logistical support were provided for members of these clubs to help them with the community interventions and reports indicate that the clubs have proven that the sensitization efforts undertaken by LOAC and partly supported by the ECSL, were very necessary, timely and need not be overstated.
The Board, Members and Staff of the Love One Another Campaign-SL express sincere thanks and appreciation to the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone for the support to the campaign. LOAC-SL will continue to monitor the activities of these clubs long after the elections.
Furthermore, LOAC will continue to promote the message of love to all Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad, for peaceful coexistence, security, development and prosperity and is encouraging other organisations/commissions with resources to support the Love Campaign in their effort to spread this vital message nationwide.