12 Young people in the Upper River Region who participated in the seven days Youth Caravan organized by Tostan International the Gambia which ended on Monday have called on the government of the Gambia to provide more skills training facilities and industries at regional level to serve as opportunities for young people to realize their potentials in national development. This, they added, would go a long way in averting the common back way syndrome amongst the youths. The manifesto which was read by one of Tostan participants was submitted to the regional Governor Alhagie Omar Sompo Ceesay. The youths said the manifesto is a symbol of their solidarity and solicit the government’s continuous support and consideration to the plight of the youth in URR. Speaking on behalf of the youths Adama Banoro, a Tostan participant from Madina Balla in the Kantora District of URR, said : “As young people preparing to become responsible future leaders, we are ready to disseminate the knowledge and skills we have gained to our peers and through collective responsibility we can ensure the respect of human rights that directly or indirectly affect children and adolescents.” Commenting on the area of child protection and care, Banoro called on the government to ensure that all children are protected from all forms of violence, exploitation, trafficking, rape, abuse and all forms of maltreatment including child marriage and Female Genital Cutting (FGC) within homes and wider society, “thus we call on our dear parents to also take this as a responsibility for ensuring that these rights are respected by all.” The Tostan participant added: “In our communities, some of these issues are believed to have strong cultural and traditional basis and seen as positive social conventions or norms. After our communities were engaged and receive relevant information and education on human rights and health effects of these harmful practices, some of these practices are now abandoned in public decelerations.” The Governor of the region, Alhagie Omar Sompo Ceesay, after receiving the manifesto from the youths, spoke at length on the significance of the forum. He acknowledge that the grassroots NGO is here to complement the efforts of the government towards national development crusade. Commenting on some of the issues highlighted in the manifesto, Governor Ceesay said the government of the Gambia is a champion in addressing those issues particularly on education, health and child protection. “We at the level of government know the positive impact the grassroots NGO have brought to the door-steeps of rural Gambian,” he remarked, while urging them to continue on their tremendous effort in ensuring that the entire villages in the region benefit from the project, while assuring them that the manifesto will reach the relevant authorities. The Deputy National Coordinator for Tostan, Edrisa Keita dwelled on the significance of the weeklong youth caravan. He noted that the Youth Caravan and forum was conceptualized in Tostan Gambia in the first year of CEP implementation in 2007. The idea of this annual event, the Tostan Deputy National Coordinator stated, is to provide the youth participants involved in Tostan classes an opportunity to visit a selected number of villages in the region to sensitize their peers, parents and authorities on the human rights and responsibilities of youth with the expectation of involving them in decision making as well as participation at young age. The National Assembly Member for Jimara, the Regional Programme Officer for Women Bureau, the regional Social Welfare Officer and the Regional Youth and Sport Coordinator Habiboulie Jawo, Kaddy Janneh, Kebba Jatta and Fabakary Sanneh all echoed similar sentiments on the tremendous effort the NGO is doing in the region in all sectors.]]>
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