U.S.-Liberia YMCAs Partner to Raise $100,000 for Youth Basketball Facility
Alvin Peabody | 9/9/2009, 4:56 p.m.
The Young Men€s Christian Associations (YMCAs) of the U.S. and Liberia have unveiled a plan to raise funds for a basketball facility outside the capital of the West African nation.
The initiative to raise $100,000 between 2009 and 2010 was announced as the Liberia YMCA recently celebrated its 128-year existence.
Plans are to relocate all basketball programs next year to an upgraded facility at Camp Todee, which is located several miles from the main YMCA headquarters in Monrovia.
€We€ve been a strong partner with the YMCA in Liberia for over 50 years on a whole range of youth and family programs,€ said Tom Valentine, senior associate director of the YMCA of the USA€s International Group.
Founded in 1889, the Chicago-based YMCA World Service is a part of YMCA of the USA€s International Group. Each year, its campaign raises awareness of and financial support for the work of the global YMCA movement.
Over the past decade, the group also has donated over $500,000 to the Liberia YMCA for various projects, Valentine said.
€Our goal is to help provide a better future for the youth of Liberia,€ said Valentine, who recently visited Liberia in June.
Liberia was founded by freed slaves from the United States and is the oldest independent country in Africa. It became a nation in 1847. The Liberia YMCA was established in Cape Palmas, Maryland County, Liberia, in 1881 by the late Episcopalian Bishop Samuel David Ferguson.
Since its founding, the YMCA has operated as a youth and community development service organization, focusing on the training of young people through intellectual, physical and spiritual programs.
Those programs, however, were interrupted recently by years of civil conflict, which ended in 2005. The war was often marked by indiscriminate killing, mutilation and rape, with child soldiers being recruited for such crimes, sometimes while high on drugs and alcohol.
At its recent Aug. 12 observance €" held under the theme €Liberian YMCA at 128: Looking Back with Pride, Forward, and Hope€ €" participants in Liberia celebrated with a parade and the formal launching of the 2009 Monrovia YMCA Children€s Vacation Basketball program.
Addressing program participants, Liberian businessman Benoni Urey was quoted as calling for the building of a new, modern gymnasium to help train young people. The current site was built in the mid-1950s.
€Our young people are bustling with all kinds of talent, including athletic prowess, and need a place to develop and display these talents,€ said Urey, chair of the one Star Cell Communications Corp.
Urey also went on to recount how he and others benefited from their days at the €Y.€
€The YMCA helped to train me, and many of the activities in which the children are currently engaged were activities that I and many of my peers participated in many years ago. I can say with appreciation and pride that these activities and the YMCA itself helped me to become who I am today.€
Momo Jenkins, a Liberian now living in the United States, said he went to the YMCA when he was growing up in his native country.
€The €Y€ was where I learned sound good discipline and leadership skills,€ Jenkins said. €It€s good to know that efforts are currently being made to help uplift today€s youth.€