News / Africa

Benghazi Boy Scouts Fill Vacuum of Libyan Social Services

Libyan Boy Scouts, just a few of around 3,500 in the town of Benghazi, are organized and able, 7 March 2011
Libyan Boy Scouts, just a few of around 3,500 in the town of Benghazi, are organized and able, 7 March 2011

Multimedia

When the Gadhafi government lost control of eastern Libya, a vacuum formed in social and other basic services.  Among those who have stepped forward to help are the Benghazi Boy Scouts.  

The chaos that has engulfed Libya in the last few weeks has sent ripple effects throughout the society.  One unexpected group has been called up to fill gaps that no one could have anticipated.

The Boy Scouts of Libya, around 3,500 in the town of Benghazi, are organized, and able.
They find themselves called upon to take on tasks that many would expect of the state - or at least more professional, trained volunteers.

But the state is all but gone in rebel-controlled Libya.  Its offices just burnt-out shells.  For 42 years the Gadhafi government set things up so that it was the only game in town, when it came to social services and running the country.  As opposition spokesman Mustafa Gheriani puts it, that left a troubling gap.

"The regime really did not invest any time or money in building these institutions," he said.  "Basically, the regime ran this country like a company and he puts a head in each department and that particular head has one interest - line up his pockets.  And when the revolution came, these guys disappeared and we found out that there is no system, just a big vacuum."

Also compounding the problem is that so many of those who should be doing these jobs came from neighboring countries.  Libya’s population is sparse and outside workers were needed.  And they were first to flee when the fighting started.

So, whether it is working in the bloody mayhem of a hospital or directing traffic because no one trusts anyone in a government uniform, in many cases it is now scouts who are sorting out the international medical aid that has flooded in.

A young Boy Scout directs traffic in Benghazi, March 7, 2011
A young Boy Scout directs traffic in Benghazi, March 7, 2011

These young boys and men - in uniforms recognizable around the world - are no longer just a youth organization.  They are helping to keep order - a job perhaps well beyond their tender years.

The man who heads the Scouts in Benghazi, Abdul Rahman, now finds himself leading an organization which is no longer about keeping kids on the straight and narrow but instead about mobilizing them to help.  The moment has filled him with pride over what his young charges can do.

"Because of God and for myself, it adds to my pride being enrolled at the Scout movement and as an international movement we offer a service to my country," he said. "With my experience and as a history of the movement we give activities that have a good response and they praise the scouts and give us self satisfaction."

A Benghazi Boy Scout, 7 March 2011
A Benghazi Boy Scout, 7 March 2011

Every day the scouts, who range in age from 7 to 18, meet to learn vital skills that can be used to help the people of their city - including first aid and organizational skills.  It’s no longer just about getting a merit badge.

With the fighting showing no sign of slowing down anytime soon, it appears that what now seems like play time could soon be all too real for these young boys in uniform - the Boy Scouts of Benghazi.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid