Youth told to dream big and work hard

Solomon Islands Government (SIG) and Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) officials have highlighted the important role youth must play in the continued peace and security of the nation during a community briefing on RAMSI’s drawdown in the West Kola settlement area of Honiara on 5 November 2016.

SIG Special Secretary to RAMSI, John Wasi, and RAMSI Special Coordinator, Quinton Devlin, urged the younger generations in and around Feraladoa Village to dream big, work hard and be disciplined.

Mr Wasi also encouraged the youth to trust and work closely with the RSIPF to prevent crime, and he warned them about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.

“Young and old citizens of Solomon Islands alike must take responsibility for keeping our communities safe. It’s not up to RAMSI, it’s up to us,” he said.

He added: “Young people are the future leaders of change, and whether they want to make money or make a difference, young people need to go to school and church, and they must stay away from kwaso and marijuana and report its production or sale to the police.”

More broadly, the church leaders, women and other community members at the briefing in West Kola expressed support for RAMSI’s drawdown from Solomon Islands in June 2017 and the national government’s preparations for that day.

Community members said that they had seen a noticeable improvement in the responsiveness and capabilities of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF), and urged RSIPF officers to patrol more frequently in their villages so that they could, amongst other things, listen to the concerns of women and build friendships with the children and youth.

The members of the West Kola community were also pleased to hear about the national government’s ongoing efforts to maintain peace and stability.

Special Secretary Wasi said: “Long after RAMSI leaves, SIG will continue to support critical issues such as building the RSIPF and tackling land reform and development issues.”

“The Government is also working closely with Australia and New Zealand to develop bilateral policing support programs after RAMSI exits and it is collaborating closely with regional neighbours to strengthen police and border cooperation,” he explained.

During the visit, RAMSI donated soccer balls to a newly established futsal team that was formed to help engage West Kola youth, teach teamwork and discipline, and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Using a soccer analogy, Special Coordinator Quinton Devlin said RAMSI and the Solomon Islands Government had been playing together for 13 years, but RAMSI would shortly pass the ball to Solomon Islands and leave it to Solomon Islands to continue to kick the goals with RAMSI contributing nations offering advice and support, when it was sought, from the sidelines.”

Community briefings on the RAMSI drawdown and post-RAMSI arrangements will continue in the coming months both in Honiara and the provinces.