An annual science and leadership festival helps to train young people in Sierra Leone. For the past seven years, Project 1808 has taken place in Kabala, in the Koinadugu district in the north of the country.

“What we try to do in a place like this is to provide opportunity and motivation, because for a human being, whether he comes from a rich or poor background, from a developed or less developed place, the most important thing that will move him forward in life is opportunity and motivation”, explains Alhaji U. N’jai, founder and chief strategist of the 1808 Inc. project.

This motivation has since enabled several young Sierra Leoneans to make their mark. Several of them have gone on to university and landed jobs in various fields.

With just over 500 delegates this year, the festival has become an integral part of the community. Umu Kessoh Jalloh is one of the many young people benefiting from this initiative.

“Project 1808 has really changed my life. In terms of public speaking, in the area of oral expression. I was very shy, I didn’t like speaking, but when I came to Project 1808, they told me that when you’re here, you have to speak. So they helped me, they’ve had a huge impact on my life”, says the young girl.

The students and participants exchanged ideas with the moderators using the Socratic method, which emphasises collective discussion.

“For us, the most important thing is to know how exciting it is. We’re learning how to be better global citizens and how we can contribute even more at the next festival”, says Sue Balmes, facilitator/Lake Michigan College.

Rebecca C. Kamara, a student at Kabala Christian Secondary School, attended the festival for the second time and took part in the small group work sessions.

“For the festivals, last year I learned about leadership and this year I learned more and more about leadership. Leadership is the ability to lead people, it’s about responsibility and, as a leader, you also have to encourage others to pursue their desires and become great people in society,” explains the student.

The science and leadership festival featured round table discussions on topics such as food security, career development, culture and the arts.

Source: Africanews

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