Abdurahman I.A. Fofana grew up in Liberia during a civil war. For Abdurahman and so many others, the war was an extremely challenging time, especially as a child.
“Many times I went to school with hunger [and without] school materials,” Abdurahman said. Despite this, he had a desire to succeed and a deep interest in education.
“I used to help my classmates in school with some academic work,” he said. Through his persistence, Abdurahman graduated from high school and later received a certificate in information communication technology. These achievements drove him to dedicate his life to mentoring underprivileged youth and giving them the same chance to overcome their situations.
“I wanted to disprove those who think we young people are lazy and violent people; also I wanted to inspire other young people,” Abdurahman said. “My passion to develop children and youth kept growing daily.”
Abdurahman began mentoring a few children and young people at his small computer business. Through his mentorship, he watched as these young people became extremely productive and successful in their high schools and communities.
Ultimately, this led Abdurahman to found the Liberian Youth Foundation. Abdurahman uses his foundation to provide free academic services and peace-building skills for at-risk youth in his community. He focuses on computer training for high school students to increase their career opportunities.
The Liberian Youth Foundation started with fewer than 10 high school students, but today has positively impacted over 5,000.
The foundation has faced various challenges throughout both the Ebola outbreak and the COVID-19 pandemic, but despite these hardships, Abdurahman continues to motivate his mentees.
“I believe that there is always a future regardless of the current difficulties and challenges,” he said. “I am striving for quality education for all and better lives for children and young people.”
When asked what his advice would be to any other YALI Network members who may be struggling, Abdurahman offered the following advice: “Apply skills we have learned. If you are applying yourself, then you should do so with passion, creativity and innovation. We must be true to ourselves in executing duties. … If there is no opportunity for you, then create one.”