News & Updates

Empowerment Squared delegation from Canada inspires hope through successful visit to West Africa with official dedication of Liberian Learning Center (February 2024)

Apr 16, 2024 | Homepage, News & Updates

From February 15 to February 27, 2024 an Empowerment Squared delegation including board members, staff, supporters, and partners traveled to Ghana and Liberia to advance the organization’s mission and initiatives in West Africa. This trip connected many themes and activities Empowerment Squared has been leading in support of its international impact and commitment to people of African descent.

The highlight of the trip was the official dedication ceremony of the Liberian Learning Center (LLC) held onsite at the  Paynesville City Hall complex on February 24, 2024. This milestone event was attended by Liberia’s President Joseph Boakai and First Lady Kartumu Yarta Boakai, as well as over 500 local political and civil leaders, students, youth groups, community members, Empowerment Squared Liberia leaders, and international guests and delegates. At this event, it was shared that the Hamilton Public Library board of directors has committed to establishing a Sister Library relationship with the Liberian Learning Center through which it will share its expertise in library sciences and utilize its connections with a network of libraries in Canada and internationally to help the LLC unfold the power of libraries.

In his remarks, President Boakai shared:

“The Liberian Learning Center is one of the most important investments in Liberia.”

President Joseph Nyuma Boakai

Emmett Dunn, Chair of the Board of Directors of Empowerment Squared Liberia, added:

“Today is an incredible milestone and the realization of a vision and dream that a young Liberian (Leo Nupolu Johnson) had to contribute to the rebuilding of his country.”

Rev. Emmett L. Dunn

Dr. Bonny Ibhawoh, advisor to Empowerment Squared and Vice Provost (International Affairs) Professor and Senator William McMaster Chair in Global Human Rights at McMaster University, noted:

“McMaster University is committed to the principles of mutuality and reciprocity in our international engagements and partnership building. We see the Liberian Learning Center as a unique opportunity to foster mutually beneficial partnerships to engage McMaster with institutions in Liberia and Africa.”

Dr. Bonny Ibhawoh

Following the LLC dedication, on the evening of February 24, 2024, Empowerment Squared joined the Rotary Club of Monrovia for the celebration of their 60th Anniversary at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex. Rotarians and supporters and members of the Liberian diaspora from across the world, including from Canada, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and across West Africa, came together for this special occasion. This gala and fundraising activities surrounding the event successfully raised over $100,000 USD in support of the Rotary Reading Room in the Liberian Learning Center and the Rotary Scholarship Program in support of students pursuing education in healthcare.

While in Liberia, the delegation built on Empowerment Squared’s strategic pillars of education and sports and recreation. The group made an official visit to the University of Liberia where they toured the institution’s library and met with senior leaders, including President Dr. Julius J. S. Nelson Jr. to discuss the future of education in Liberia and partnership opportunities between the ecosystem being developed around the Liberian Learning Center and the University of Liberia’s national post-secondary leadership role. The group also has a constructive visit with the African Methodist Episcopal University.

At the beautiful new PHP Unity Sports Park in Monrovia, Liberia, Empowerment Squared’s Manager of Sports and Recreation, Kwbana Beckles brought our UBUNTU basketball program international. On day 1 of the sports program, 25 local basketball coaches were led through a master class workshop on coaching tools and techniques, equipping them with both technical and leadership skills and frameworks to enhance their coaching and mentorship of Liberian youth. Day 2 brought over 50 marginalized and vulnerable local youth through a basketball skills workshop and games, with an emphasis on building both their capabilities and confidence.

In Ghana, the delegation made symbolic trips to Cape Coast for a visit to Cape Coast Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and sombre monument to the legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, as well as to Buduburam in Ghana, where Empowerment Squared’s Executive Director Leo Nupolu Johnson spent a number of his adolescent years as a refugee.

Also in Ghana, Empowerment Squared partners Youth Bridge Foundation hosted a partnership and community engagement event that was attended by representatives from Ghana’s Ministry of Education, the High Commission of Canada in Ghana, local partners, and a diverse cross section of community stakeholders. This event included an official in-person announcement about the $4.9M investment from Global Affairs Canada to launch the African Youth International Internship Project in partnership with McMaster University, Schools of Dreams, and others. The internship program will focus on placements in both Ghana and Liberia, and is a demonstration of Empowerment Squared’s continued commitment to the region.

Empowerment Squared will be hosting an event in Hamilton in May 2024 to report back in person on this trip and other activities. Please follow us on social media and join our mailing list for updates on this upcoming event.

Please consider donating to support the capital and operating costs of the Liberian Learning Center at empowermentsquared.org/donate