“I don’t want any other child to experience the feeling of hopelessness, of being neglected by society, and the temptation I felt”
Barriers to education, Children in conflicts, Education Cannot Wait, Education in emergencies, Girls' education, Right to education
Darlington David Faijue tells about his childhood struggles in Liberia, setting up an NGO at 17 and how he encourages young people to become active in their communities.
My name is Darlington David Faijue, I am 20 years old and a Global Youth Ambassador for Theirworld.
I grew up in Liberia’s largest slum, West Point Community, in a poor and low-class Liberian family. In my country, about half of the population live below the standard poverty line, with ordinary citizens unable to accumulate a dollar per day.
Growing up in an environment where crimes were like a sport and drugs could be found in every corner of our community can be threatening and a hindrance to becoming a better person.
I lived in a community where lack of access to standard education, basic health services, access to electricity and youth opportunities contributed to a broken childhood for me and my peers.
But these obstacles were all the result of poor ability of our leaders, corruption, lack of patriotism and bad economic strategies.
Although my childhood was the worst period of my life, although I fell so many times and was tempted to leave school and join gangs, my dreams of helping to change my community were never killed.
I survived the odds and I made it out of a community that gave me so much pain and agony and made up my mind to serve. To help contribute to a better childhood for others.
Despite my own childhood, I don’t want any other child to experience the feeling of hopelessness, the feeling of being neglected by society and the temptation I felt.
I love sports, especially basketball, because they are the only activities that help me clear my head apart from writing. Basketball saved me from being killed or imprisoned, basketball made me control my anger and made me find my true calling of leadership through practising good sportsmanship.
I believe that our lives will begin to end the day we stop dreaming about the change we want to see in our community.
At the age of 17, I founded Save The Future Foundation Liberia (STFFL), a youth-led educational, developmental and empowerment NGO helping to transform the minds of my peers in my community who were mainly engaged in violence and drugs usage as the result of the 14 years of bloodthirsty civil crisis that had torn my country apart.
This NGO was primarily founded with the aim of transforming the lives of vulnerable youth into useful and self-reliant society builders.
STFFL strengthens and improves youth-led movements in Liberia by creating educational and developmental opportunities for them to engage with social change and transform an adult-dominated system to one where young people have the ability to execute the change they want to see in their sector.
Through our foundation, we have launched several initiatives such as the First Local Symposium on the Sustainable Development Goals, where 120 young people benefited from a workshop on understanding the SDGs for 2030.
This was hosted in four counties – Bong, Montserrado, Margibi and Grand Bassa.
Our Pad4Her campaign provided free sanitary pads to schoolgirls to enable them to stay in school when they started menstruating.
We also held regional annual youth leadership, empowerment and development seminars – through which we equipped young people with leadership education and skills to help make them self-employed, thereby tackling poverty and unemployment.
I believe that young people need to be seen as active participants in the growth and development of my country. Instead, they are often viewed as passive recipients. Darlington David Faijue
I have represented the youth of my country and also served as an international speaker at several youth leadership, consultative and peace seminars around the globe.
They included the World Youth Conference 2016 in New Delhi, India; the 11th Global Youth Peace Festivals in Chandigarh, India; Unleashed 2016 in Madrid, Spain; the Pan Africa Edition of the National Youth Summit 2015 in Abuja, Nigeria; and the Africa Youth Forum 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
I currently run a network of over 26 young people who I provide free leadership mentoring to.
I have won some awards for my youth leadership traits in my community locally and internationally, such as the 2016 Global Youth Peace Icon (Chandigarh, India); the 3rd Most Influential Under-21 Youth Leadership Awards 2016 (Monrovia, Liberia); the Best Youth Servant Leaderships Trainer at International Youth Fellowship – World Camp 2015 (Fendell, Liberia); Outstanding Youth of the year 2015 – St. John United Methodist Church (Gbarnga, Liberia).
My vision is to see young people be recognised as powerful decision-makers and stakeholders equal to adults, leading initiatives and collaborating with adult-led systems to influence policies and practices that advance their concerns as citizens.
STFFL’s interventions are designed to put education, economic and social power in the hands of young people and create equal opportunities for them to proactively engage in solving social-economic problems that they identify as important.
We equip young people with the tools to access development information, services and rights so that they can build collective platforms to create social-economic change and negotiate with adult-led systems in shaping their future.
With a population of 4.4 million, war-torn and looted Liberia has one of the world’s largest numbers of teenage pregnancy, youth unemployment and one of the lowest literacy rates in West Africa, as the result of the 14 years of the Liberian civil crisis.
According to the 2008 National Population and Housing Census in Liberia organised by the United Nations Statistics, more than 48% of Liberian’s teenage girls are pregnant and about 61% of the youth population was unemployed in 2005.
I believe that young people need to be seen as active participants in the growth and development of my country. Instead, they are often viewed as passive recipients, primarily due to gaps in existing policies that fail to address their real life challenges.
STFFL stretches out to young people through numerous platforms, such as schools, communities, and social organisations and media partners.
Each year approximately 113 volunteers are enrolled. Teams of volunteers choose an area of interest within STFFL’s theme, put together their ideas, create an action plan, build a sustainability plan, identify a community to implement their ideas and relate their work to policies.
Each volunteer has to only contribute their time and effort to learn. We raised money through fundraising in their community that collectively contributes to 43% of our budget.
I believe that helping us identify a community to carry out fund-raising programmes for their own ideas and programmes is not only good for developing young people’s communication skills, it also becomes an excellent way for them to interact with communities, encourage public opinion and involvement with the vision of the organisation, and the need to invest in youth.