Diamond is one of four children in her family, and she loves to cook, teach, and help others. Whatever she’s doing, Diamond wants people to feel the positive impact of what she’s doing. While visiting Liberia in 2023, we spoke to her about how she’s been supported by Y Care International’s partner there, and what her plans are for the future.
Part of a community
A keen basketball player, Diamond first got involved with Liberia YMCA and its programmes through its children’s vocational programme in 2018. On the programme, she learned key skills, like cooking.
Recognising the importance of the younger generations in building up Liberian society following a long period of instability, the YMCA’s vocational programme teaches young people practical life skills, as well as personal finance and entrepreneurship, to prepare them to be leaders and pioneers for the 21st century.
I love to make food. African dishes, like potato greens … Cassava leaves. And sometimes I do pastry, Cookies, doughnuts.
A journey of learning
I want to start my own business. Since I joined YMCA, I’ve learned a lot of new things. And I’m getting involved with a lot of new people, new youth. It impacts society greatly. So I want to do the same.
Since being involved with the YMCA, Diamond has found her voice and discovered she wants to be a leader in her own right. Her learning and personal development journey led her to take a much bigger interest in society, school, and local government. She began to associate with many more young people and developed an interest in how things worked around her:
I started meeting other people and got to know people better. And I know that is a good thing. So it made me associate with other young people…
Making an impact
Personally, where I am right now is volunteering. We have started a bottle project to build a house. A two bedroom house with a bathroom and a hut with plastic bottles.
Through volunteering with this building project in Todee District, Diamond has learned about using recycled material for building a house, and this can have benefits for thermal insulation, cost, and durability:
What I learned from the construction of plastic bottles is that it is not like bricks. You build a house with bricks. When the sun is hot, the house will be hot if you don’t have a fan or air conditioning. But if you are using the plastic bottles and you build a house with it, it is the opposite. If the outside is hot, the house will be cold. But if the outside is cold, the house will be warm.
And it is durable. It is not like cement. If you use hammer on a cement brick, it will burst. But if you use hammer on a plastic bottle, what they says, it will not burst. So it lasts longer than the bricks.
Building houses for a circular economy
It takes around two months to build the houses, and the project contributes to the local environment by providing a new use for plastic waste. Collected from homes, restaurants, and the community, the bottles are filled with sand to create ‘eco-bricks’. These are used as the core structural element of the new houses.
So far, the group have used about 1,000 bottles – and they expect to use over 7,000 by completion.
Diamond and her colleagues are excited to complete this project, as it is their first time constructing a building like this.
Continuing to equip new generations
We asked Diamond where she sees herself in 10 years’ time.
To our surprise, she said: ‘I see myself where I am right now.’
‘…Taking care of young people.’
It’s impacted my life, you know, in a very, very positive way. I went to the YMCA for basketball, but I stopped doing basketball and I started volunteering.
Forging a future
Diamond has just gained her admission to the University of Liberia to study Public Administration, and in the future, she sees herself working for the YMCA or another youth-focused organisation, helping to inspire and equip the next generation of young leaders.
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