IRCL Holds Workshop
By John L. Momoh
The Chairman of the Inter-religious Affairs of the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), Rev. Pastor David A.B. Parker has stressed the importance of engaging peer groups in efforts to stamp out gender based violence in Liberia.
Speaking at the end of a UNICEF sponsored one-day workshop on Gender Based violence on behalf of the President of the Inter-Religious council of Liberia (IRCL), Rev. Kortu Browne, at the ICRL headquarters on Clay Street last week, Pastor Parker said involving peer group approach in halting gender based violence is cardinal to all other solutions.“I know some of us can play out with our children, but if the child gets out of pressure they get out of fashion. We are the custodians of those children and there is no better place to keep them than in our homes,” he said.
According to Pastor Parker who also works in the office of the Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church office, there is no better place to pass the information concerning assaults and gender based violence committed by children than in the religious places of worship such as in the churches, Mosques and also through youth groups in our various communities.
“If we can pass the message to persons at our worship services, they can in turn each pass it over to ten more persons. We need to have a special workshop session with UNICEF to be trained, so as to train children against gender based violence, for which we do not only need Imams and Pastors, but also peer-groups influence to talk to them,” he said.
Pastor Parker said children go to football fields to play, they call others to follow and they admire players like ‘Messi or Ronaldo’, and would like to imitate and follow them and that was how some children joined the civil war after seeing Ranbo films and wanted to be like him.
He added that some of the mistakes committed in the past was because bringing elders and the older folks to deal with the younger groups or children.
Pastor Parker observed that the new concept is to create the forum for young people to talk to other young people and not pastors, Imams and community heads alone, adding that they should be part of the solutions to problems that they themselves sometimes create.
Participants at the workshop included pastors and Imams especially members of the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia which groups the Liberia Council of churches (LCC) and the national Muslims Council of Liberia (NMCL).
Asked about his impression of the 1-dfay work shop, Pastor Parker said the time is short, but he thinks the workshop, NMCL is timely and hopes that good things will come out of it, adding that his only fear is that in Liberia there is often more said than done when it comes to implementing decisions taken.
“But I believe that if we must get anything out of this workshop, then it will be fruitful if we use peer groups to talk to young people to leave bad ways such as drug addiction, gender based violence and armed robbery, in order to help us win the minds of our people.
He added that what should be done is to find a small group of young people and have them empowered, and sent into the various communities, and they will gain needed results. “Children listen well to older folks but reacts faster to peer groups,” Pastor Parker cautioned.
Asked about his impression, Imam Mohamed B. Keita of the Ganta Central Mosque said because it is a workshop which teaches us to train the coming generations, he feels fine about it and hopes it will continue and when we do our works well, as religious leaders they will be paid by Allah. He added that he already has experience in doing community work, as during Ebola he was responsible for the welfare and education of orphans of Ebola victims and street girls.