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

TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 266 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid