Whoever said Africa was not capable of managing its own affairs had yet to encounter the Ecowas Youth Volunteer Scheme. To ECOWAS insiders, it’s the de facto “Marshall Plan” of ECOWAS that seeks to uplift the Mano River Union countries embedded within ECOWAS — Liberia; Sierra Leone; Guinea-Bissau — from extreme poverty. To others, it’s a largely-unknown attempt to address the deep unemployment affecting the youth across West Africa.
For Bukola Ayoola, Country Coordinator for Liberia of the ECOWAS Youth Volunteer Scheme (EYVS) at the Office of the Special Representative in Liberia, the opportunity for the ECOWAS Youth Volunteer Scheme to address youth unemployment is something she is very passionate about.
Cutting an assuming and humble figure, I first met her in Liberia for an ECOWAS meeting in January. I was impressed by the wealth of experience she has, considering how she started off herself as a Youth Volunteer back in 2011.
She believes it “was a dream come true” as the platform not only improved her professional skills, but also afforded her the opportunity to “interact with and meet the needs of young people in one of the most vulnerable places in the ECOWAS Space — Liberia” She explains how throughout her seven years of professional volunteering, she has had the opportunity of serving at different “strategic levels”, including as an English teacher and Assistant to the ECOWAS Volunteers Programme.
I had yet-another opportunity to meet Mz Ayoola today on the sidelines of the “Second Annual Forum of National Volunteering Agencies in West Africa”, which was themed “Place of Volunteering in the Fight Against Youth Unemployment”.