Liberia’s journey to a better tomorrow requires placing emphasis on the younger generation that would eventually take over the ship of affairs of the country in different spheres. Rising Youth Mentorship Initiative (RYMI) – a brainchild of two young Liberian women: Ms. Yah V. Parwon and Ms. Raisa Mathies, is braving the storm to provide mentorship, reproductive health education and life skills to adolescents predominantly girls to enable them become healthy and self-determined regardless of the dangers life poses to their future.
Speaking at the 3rd Annual Education Enrichment program closing event on August 31, 2019 in Paynesville, Liberia, RYMI Coordinator, Sele Max Fuah said the program was birthed when Ms. Parwon and Ms. Mathies decided that they would help their compatriots who are at the arrowhead of abuse and negative vices in the society so that they can be tooled with the right information about their rights and values as young women.
“These (Yah and Raisa) are women who did not want to be dwelling in their communities idly while there are many young girls who need help to become better since they are faced with different challenges of life and idle,” Mr. Fuah said.
According to him, the founders of the initiative chose to venture into this program when the need to fill void of mentorship programs in Liberia grew uncontrollably. Young women, he said, were left to fend for themselves based on the perception that “they are not serious” but RYMI rose up to the occasion to change the narrative by working with these young people to discuss their future and how they can live the life of their dream.
The founders of the organization used their personal live stories to mentor young women about their reproductive health rights in order to avoid teenage pregnancy and sexual abuse; provide after school learning program in 2016 to help young women improve their reading skills to enhance spelling ability, teach new words and pronounce better with the inclusion of some young men as well because there is a need to bring them along. Skills training is part of package to allow these adolescent women make meaningful contribution to their communities and the society as a whole. They are taught soap making, arts and craft, painting and invent chlorax for home use.
He said the RYMI believes that these skills will strengthen the beneficiaries’ resolve to stand up for their rights and become self-reliant. In essence, Mr. Fuah said Rising Youth Mentorship Initiative is providing a full package of learning opportunities: reproductive health education, life skills and educational support to these young women. He added that other recreational activities are included to make the mentees feel comfortable.
The RYMI Coordinator acknowledged the immense contributions of Mr. Richard Lee who has been sacrificing to support the initiative since it started. He disclosed that Mr. Lee has provided up-to-date books for the establish of a library for the beneficiaries.
For her part, the Guest Motivator, Ms. Yassah Lavela encouraged the young people to take their learning seriously because education would propel them to become anyone they aspire to be in life.
The Harvard University Global Health Postgraduate Candidate admonished the RYMI beneficiaries that no matter the background they come from, determination and education can get them anywhere in the world.
According to Ms. Lavela, she grew up in the Gogbachop Market area with little hope that she would be attending a school that has produced some of the world’s best leaders. When a friend told her to pursue such path, Yassah said she was apprehensive because her parents could not afford the cost of sending her to Harvard after she completed her studies at Cuttington University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.
Ms. Lavela added the road to Harvard University was not a walk in the park but determination and focus took her through especially coming from a humble background. She added that learning is not just enough but young people should remember to give back to their country and communities.
A representative of the parents whose children benefited from the RYMI education enrichment program, Madam Emeline Frank express how grateful they [parents] are to RYMI for the program that keep their kids busy in a secured environment while they are away from home during the day.
“It was indeed a great help for us because our kids acquired skills in different areas that are very useful. It also helped of us who are busy and unable to cater to our children when we are not home. We are extremely grateful and hope that it is supported to continue,” Madam Frank stated.
In remarks, a member of RYMI Board said it is hoped that the program will be extended to other communities outside Monrovia because there are many young women out there who need mentorship to carry about their daily lives.
She told the beneficiaries that the successful women in society made a decision to be determined adding that they [beneficiaries] will be held responsible for their future if anything goes wrong because the program provided them enough information to enhance their decision-making process in life.
This class had 45 beneficiaries. About RYMI Rising Youth Mentorship Initiative (RYMI) is a non-profit community based initiative established in 2013 by two young women (Ms.Yah V. Parwon & Ms. Raisa Mathies) to mentor young women with the aim of grooming emerging leaders.
The organization was birthed through the organizing of a sexual reproductive health girls club set up to respond to the situation of teenage pregnancy that affects many young women within Liberia.
The girls club held monthly meetings to create access to sexual reproductive health life skills information. Over the years the organization has built on that experience to develop a holistic adolescent girl’s sexual reproductive health programming which includes Sexual Reproductive Health Mentorship, Education and Economic Empowerment.
The organizational development process led to the incorporating of RYMI in 2016 as a legal non-profit organization with the mission to give every adolescent the opportunity to live a healthy and self-determined life.
Rising Youth Mentorship Initiative is driven by the core belief that comprehensive sexuality education empowerment has a ripple effect on the life of an individual and the socio- economic development of the individual’s society.