Liberian Bus Project Aims to Drive Votes, Change and Leaders
All it took was four months in Oregon and one big bus. Seeing first-hand the impact of "The Bus Project" — a voter registration initiative that has added more than 100,000 to rolls there — inspired Eddie Jarwolo to try a similar feat in his home country of Liberia.
Jarwolo, the Executive Director of National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections (NAYMOTE) and a Community Solutions Program Leader, wants to get youth more involved in elections so their concerns are more fully represented in the national development agenda. Among their greatest worries are employment, education, healthcare, security and human rights.
So far he has made important strides in his quest to "drive votes, drive change and drive leaders." He has 20 young volunteers ready to assist with his Liberian version of "The Bus Project." The energetic group goes door to door in communities, registering voters for future elections. In addition, they help community members explore political issues that matter most to them and strive to empower young Liberians by increasing their participation in politics and community life.
For one volunteer, Aaron Weah-Weah, III, getting involved was an opportunity to work for the change he desires. "I learn that volunteering and collective efforts yield bigger results," he said.
Jarwolo hasn't stopped there. Using the knowledge and skills gained from his fellowship, he also created and distributed a civics toolkit to organizations at the community, national and international levels to help youth get more involved in local government. His goal is to deepen the understanding about issues of local governance, community organizing, volunteerism, and civic engagement.
Jarwolo has also hosted forums that bring lawmakers into direct contact with their constituents for important discussion and feedback on timely issues.
"The town hall meeting is linking local people to real political issues," Jarwolo said. "[We are] deepening citizens' understanding on legislative process, and enabling community members to influence local development agendas for budgetary allocations."
The Community Solutions Program is a professional development program for the best and brightest global community leaders working in Transparency & Accountability, Tolerance/Conflict Resolution, Environmental Issues, and Women’s Issues. It is funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, and implemented by IREX.