City Staff Discusses Community Engagement with Visitor from Sierra Leone

Sierra Leon GuestCity staff recently met with Christian Kamara, the National General Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA in Sierra Leone. Mr. Kamara was visiting for a week to explore collaborations in global service learning with The University YMCA, which has a long-term partnership with the YMCA of Sierra Leone.

Mr. Kamara expressed an interest in discussing citizen outreach efforts with local government officials in Champaign, and raised that idea with Susan Schnuer, Associate Director of the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs at the University Library. The Mortenson Center provides training to librarians in developing and transitional countries, including information on the value of collaboration.

Mr. Kamara met with City officials from the Finance and Neighborhood Services Department, along with his hosts from the University YMCA and The Mortenson Center. A productive discussion was held.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Kamara’s work focused on providing leadership training and civic education to youth groups, including community awareness in the prevention of HIV/AIDS, a significant problem in many African countries. He subsequently expanded the programs to provide leadership training and civic education, and successfully advocated for participation of young people in Sierra Leone’s governance. More recently, the YMCA has created schools and other resources to develop young people. Mr. Kamara was also instrumental in reducing the spread of Ebola by working with local networks to inform citizens how to avoid and treat Ebola.