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RESH Graduates 290 Volunteers -Graduates Urged to Rescue the Mentally Disturbed

The Renewed Energy Serving Humanity

(RESH) has graduated 290 psychosocial counselors with a mission to go forth and exercise what they have learned to benefit Liberia. In fulfillment of this mission, the graduates have been tasked to help rescue the thousands of Liberians who are struggling with traumatic conditions, many of whom are young people—with the ever growing population of zogoes (young people who are practically living on the streets as a result of their addiction to drugs) in major cities and their suburbs in the country.

Though the cause (s) of these young people’s situations cannot general be attributed to the civil unrest that that characterized the country recently, it could also, because the high surge in the usage of narcotic substances in country—and this could be referred to as after war effects or an out-shoot of the crisis. These groups of people are in dire need of help to regain their minds or themselves, and the graduates have been charged in that regard.

The graduation ceremony took place over the weekend on the Duport Road in Paynesville City, Liberia after an eight-week intensive psychosocial training program. The volunteers, who also include some Ebola survivors, will now be deployed in various communities to serve as RESH ambassadors, with the responsibilities of identifying basic psychosocial support-related issues, providing basic services proportional to their training, and making the requisite referrals where needed.

It is no secret that the decade long civil crisis in the country, couple with the recent Ebola virus disease that took thousands of lives in the country, has left a sizable number of Liberians traumatized and according to many, government has been doing very little to rescue these people. It was, therefore, in this regard that RESH, according to its Founder and Executive Director, Ernest Garnark Smith, Jr. thought it wise to help, but at a critical time, during the height of the EVD in Liberia.This global threat also presented the best opportunity for the organization to start such an unique process.

Therefore, he said, RESH started its psychosocial counseling with those that were diagnosed with the EVD and were taken to the ELWA’s Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) in Paynesville, where the Founder and Executive Director of RESH, Ernest Garnark Smith, Jr. braved the storm to providing counseling to victims in order to give them hope to survive; and fortunately many of his clients did survive.

He was providing an overview of RESH program at the ceremony. Smith, a university lecturer and a psychosocial supports worker, has always stressed the need for government and its partners to provide more support to mental health programs. He maintained that the decade-long Liberian war with its many accompanying negative scenes left many Liberians traumatized, but more worrisome is that no help seems to be coming anytime soon for these group of people. “We see a lot of people in the streets who appear confused. They need help, too. It is incumbent upon our government to intervene in their situations by coming up with supporting programs that work in that direction,” Smith added. “There is a better way to serve humanity and helping someone who is suffering psychologically is one of the most important ways because these are very difficult to detect at time,” Smith said.

Serving as guest speaker was former minister of Foreign Affairs and Finance Ministries, Mr. Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan. He stressed that there is an urgent need for the youth of the country to be rescued from grips of drugs addiction and it is incumbent upon the graduates to do so because they now possess the expertise to do so. “You now need to go forth and liberate your brothers and sisters because they have been living in these conditions for too long now. Please use the skills you have gained to be a help to your country,” he said. He said the issue of drugs abuse is now a national crisis that needs to be tackle heads on. “We must do something about as a country or else we will be losing an entire generation to these harmful substances,” he said while also wondering how these substances even entered the country.

Liberians continue to complain that government is doing nothing to take mentally-ill people off the streets, something that should be embarrassing for the country. “We see many mentally-challenged people in the streets, but some of them are not mentally-ill. They just have some minor problems,” Smith added, criticizing that the social protection arm of the society is doing little to tackle the problem. He continues to call for those with mental conditions should be taken off the streets. “We have a lot of work to do and we must begin now. Government and partners need to put some money in this direction,” he said.

The graduation ceremony was also graced by relatives and friends of the volunteers and several distinguish cross section of invited guests. Also in attendance were members of RESH’s board as well as staff. The training was held under the theme, ‘Equipping to Serve Mama Liberia and Humanity,’ the graduates were taught 10 psychosocial-support-related courses over eight weeks. Courses the graduates did include Introduction to Psychosocial Counseling; Substance Abuse; Mental Health Issues; Volunteerism; Working with Children Faced with Traumatic Issues; Introduction to Guidance Counseling; Community Sensitization and Mobilization; and Introduction to Social Works, Temperament Analysis, Child RIghts; Advocacy, among others.

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