A delegation from the United Kingdom Branch of the Young Leaders of Sierra Leone has reportedly paid a visit to former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair on October 3, 2008 at his 9 Grosvenor Square, London.
The delegation was accompanied by 1st Secretary of the Sierra Leone High Commission in London, Mr. Jonathan Lans-Lamin.
Murtala Mohamed Kamara, Public Relations and Media Director of the group says the aim of the visit was to present the former British Prime Minister with an “Icon Award” for his remarkable contribution and support to the restoration of peace in Sierra Leone.
The visit also focused on establishing a working relationship between Young Leaders and the office of Blair and also to create a mutual partnership with Young Leaders Sierra Leone in support of its vision of youth development in the country.
In his remarks, Blair says he was keen to know about the work of YLSL and how Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora could help bring lasting change in the country.
“Are you all going back to Sierra Leone to serve your country?” Blair asked the delegation.
The Group’s Chairperson, Mrs. Ival Cummings-John, in her response, explained the work of the organization and its achievement since it was formally launched in Sierra Leone by former Vice President, Solomon Ekuma Berewa.
She told the former British Prime Minister that the group was formed by some patriotic Sierra Leonean youth leaders at home and in the UK, Holland, USA and other parts of the Diaspora.
She says YLSL promotes the growing recognition of the importance of youth engagement in state planning.
YLSL founder and CEO, Abubakarr Messeh Kamara called on Mr. Blair to do more for Sierra Leone.
‘‘It is still not enough. Our country must move from being a donor-driven nation to that of a fully independent state, empowered and capable of running its own affairs,’’ Kamara said while presenting the award to Blair.
“We want you to use your good office as an informal ambassador and adviser to the government and the youth of Sierra Leone,” Kamara said, adding that young people have a major role to play in the governance of the country.
“It is about time we are seen as partners in identifying and contributing to our nation’s vision,” he noted while presenting the youth village project proposal.
He says the project is expected to provide residential conference centre, multi-purpose agricultural site, children’s playground, youth hostels, Library and ICT outfit, children’s hospital, a radio station, workspaces, mini-stadium and lounges, and a section for a youth centre.
Responding again, Mr. Blair promised that he will send some of his staff to support the government on capacity building as part of his unpaid adviser and informal Ambassador for the government of Sierra Leone. Sylvester Tamba Dugba gave the vote of thanks
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.