The History and Story of AYM
The Sierra Leone and Liberia civil wars share common patterns which recruit child soldiers and, economically marginalized youths, for fighters.
The Sierra Leone war (1991-2002) left an estimated 60% of young people economically and socially abandoned. At the end of the war, the amount of training for self-reliance was not going to be enough. Alternatives means of employment would require a broader coalition of interested stakeholders.
Creating employment opportunities for young people in Africa is the motivation for the creation of the Twenty-First Century African Youth Movement (AYM), a Wisconsin corporation. AYM became a 501 (C)3 in 2000.
AYM’s first project was educating audiences in the United States about the Sierra Leone Civil War through a traveling art exhibition, “Representations of Violence: Art about the Sierra Leone Civil War.”
Funding for the project came from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission and the University of Wisconsin Anonymous Funds.
Curbing social stagnation, economic marginalization and improving the lives of hundreds of youth in Sierra Leone is a primary focus of AYM by eliminating the number one trigger: Youth Unemployment.
AYM operates from Wisconsin. The second phase of the Sierra Leone operation started in June 2006. By the end of 2007, AYM established a Social Enterprise Center and business incubator with Youth Vegetable Gardens and ecotourism projects.