YAI works in countries that have been impacted by war and are striving to rebuild. These are places that have endured suffering and destruction, and when countries emerge from years of civil unrest, young people continue to struggle through the effects of carnage. Thousands are traumatized by the general effects of war or from being used as child soldiers. Entire education systems are ravaged, poverty is extremely high and young people find themselves unable to find opportunities to sustain themselves.
Research from the World Bank shows that exposure to conflict during early childhood or adolescence has a huge and persistent direct effect on health, education and productivity of children and young people. It also notes that countries who have had conflict and also have high poverty and youth unemployment rates are more likely to return to conflict. This is why YAI dedicates its efforts to providing training and opportunities for at-risk youth, to help reduce the chances of countries falling back into war and bloodshed.
YAI currently has full operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone and is doing a feasibility study to reopen its operations in Uganda.
Founded in 1847 by freed slaves who traveled from the United States to Africa in search of new beginnings, Liberia is a small West African country of a little more than four million people.
Before 1980 Liberia’s economy was among the more developed and fastest growing in sub-saharan Africa. In 1989, Liberia’s progress and development was interrupted by a civil war that led to the deaths of more than 250,000 people. The war eventually ended in August 2003, but the country had sustained massive infrastructure damage and have not yet been fully restored. The Liberian education system was in such a deplorable state that the Ministry of Education was compelled to outsource the running of some public schools to private organizations.
Liberia is among the poorest countries in the world. It also is amongst the countries with the lowest access to digital technology. Only 3% of schools in Liberia have a computer lab.
Sierra Leone is located in West Africa, with a population of a little more than 7 million people. According to UNESCO, as of 2020 close to half of its population is under 15.
Similar to Liberia, Sierra Leone was embroiled in a brutal civil war between 1991 to 2002 which resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (about one-third of the population).
The education system in Sierra Leone includes levels based on the British education system. However, the Sierra Leone education system faces many challenges including very limited access to computer literacy for young people. It is estimated that only 4% of Sierra Leonean high schools have a computer lab.