Monrovia, Liberia - The Head of the Steering Committee of the “Put Ma Ellen There” Project, Ms. Cornelia Kruah, said at a news conference on Monday that a sculpture in honor of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will be unveiled on September 30, at the “Garden of Nations” located on the campus of the United Nations Mandated University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Addressing a news conference at the Foreign Ministry’s C. Cecil Dennis, Jr. Auditorium, Ms. Kruah said the unveiling ceremony will form part of the Liberian President’s State Visit to Costa Rica later this month. According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian leader will visit Costa Rica after attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Thirteen members, along with two advisors of the Project team, will form part of President Sirleaf’s delegation for the unveiling ceremony, Ms Kruah disclosed, adding that the team will also have the opportunity to represent the youth of Liberia at the UN General Assembly in New York.
The “Put Ma Ellen There” Project officially commenced on September 18, 2012, when 15 young people representing Liberia’s 15 counties met President Sirleaf to inform her of their plan to erect a bust in her honor at the “Garden of Nations” at the UN’s University of Peace in Costa Rica. The project was officially launched on October 13, 2012, with a basketball and dance extravaganza at the YMCA. Subsequent fundraising activities included: a dinner at the Monrovia City Hall; a fundraising beach jamboree last December; and an inter-university basketball tournament. The funds generated were transferred to the University to commence work on the bust of President Sirleaf.
The initial date set for the unveiling program was May 30, during which time President Sirleaf was invited to serve as the keynote speaker of the University’s Commencement Convocation, but it was deferred due to the Liberian leader’s busy schedule.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Lenn Eugene Nagbe, in his remarks, said he was extremely proud of the youth because they fostered an idea and worked diligently to see it come to a successful end. “As the sector minister responsible for youth, it inspires me to know that there are young people in Liberia who are focused on positive things. Their example should be replicated by other youths because if you are focused, it’s a sign that in your own life you will make progress,” Minister Nagbe said, pointing out that it does not necessarily have to be a project that highlights the achievements of the President, but there are others in which the youth could engage, properly utilizing their talents for their betterment.
The Establishment Coordinator of the Angie Brooks International Center on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, and Peace and Security, Cllr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh, said she is delighted because the project is one undertaken by the youth of Liberia. “They are the initiators, they have seen it through, they have persevered, and today they are able to go with President Sirleaf as members of her delegation to the United Nations, and onward to Costa Rica to put her somewhere historically,” she said, adding that Liberia is again about to be first – the first time an African is placed in that Garden reserved for luminaries like Mahatma Gandhi, among other peacemakers, and the first time a youth group will have erected a sculpture in the Garden of Nations.
For his part, the Deputy Foreign Minister for International Cooperation and Economic Integration, Mr. Elias Shoniyin, said that even though the initial objective was to unveil a monument in honor of President Sirleaf, it was also felt that this visit could coincide with other aspects of the national agenda which is ensuring diplomatic relations with a very strategic country that could bring returns to Liberia. “Considering that Costa Rica is known by its foreign policy for fostering human rights and sustainable development as a way to secure stability and growth, which also sinks in to our own Agenda for Transformation and Vision 2030, we then decided that this mission be made as an official State Visit of the President to Costa Rica, even though this visit was initiated by the young people,” he said.
Mr. Shoniyin said he was proud of the youth, and encouraged other young Liberians to also productively utilize their energy to contribute to the nation’s post-war development objectives.