Key to Liberian Development? Servant Leaders.

Abel at his YALILearns session in July 2019
Abel at his YALILearns session in July 2019

Growing up in Palala, a town in Liberia, Abel Varney noticed a great disparity among his peers and felt insecure about the high cost of his schooling.

“Imagine a single child, one of eight, struggling to study,” Abel says. “What will his future look like? As the one educated child in my family, I had to be strong, strong enough to face the realities of life.”

“For me, a perfect day growing up was when we had enough food on the table for everyone,” Abel says. “And I would be the one to eat the leftovers.”

Participants at Abel's YALILearns session in July 2019
Participants at Abel’s YALILearns session in July 2019

It wasn’t until protests erupted in June that Abel saw an opportunity to advocate for a more egalitarian state.

“Liberian youth were engaging in peaceful protests in Monrovia,” Abel says, describing the demonstrations over long-standing corruption and economic mismanagement. “But I wanted to show the youth that protests might not solve our problem as a country.

“Rather, we can find other means to develop Liberia, among them peer education.”

Shortly thereafter, Abel took his idea a step further and organized a session on the YALI Network Online Course “Servant Leadership“.

His session, which brought together 24 students and other young leaders, focused squarely on leading with integrity and what each participant can do to inspire change in his or her community.

Abel’s advice to others looking to plan a YALILearns session: Plan early.

Participants at Abel's YALILearns session in July 2019
Participants at Abel’s YALILearns session in July 2019

“I found that planning early leads to a better presentation, to a better connection with participants, and to a better quality session overall,” Abel says.

“You never know who’s attending your session,” he adds. “A participant might want to lead his or her own session and it’s up to you to inspire them.”

For Abel, it’s that focus on others and on their unique needs that, he feels, sets YALILearns sessions apart.

“Networking is the key to success,” Abel says. “And that starts with investing in people, really listening to what they have to say, and taking responsibility for your actions, every day.”

Asked how he would like to be remembered, Abel replied simply that he would like to be seen as someone who helped his peers along and paved the way to a better, brighter tomorrow.

“If I can help those around me, I will always be remembered.”

Interested in sharing your passion and expertise with others? Find out how you can plan your own session on our YALILearns page.

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