UYD: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your passions?
Alpha Barrie: My name is Alpha Barrie, and I am the founder of the Youth Millennium Foundation, I am 20 years old and I grew up and finished my school in Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa. I when to Prince of Wales Senior Secondary School in Freetown, Sierra Leone, I am from a middle class working family. I am a contributor in a book called 2 billion under 20, which will be out soon. 2 Billion Under 20 is a community of inspirational young individuals who refuse to believe that age is a barrier to achieving greatness. We defy social norms and empower our peers to relentlessly develop and chase their dreams.
UYD: What is it like as a Sierraleonean living in the US?
AB: Coming to the United State for the first time is an experience that is priceless, everything about American is different, the ethics, and the way of life. At the same time, living in the United States has opened my eyes to the possibilities of what I can do in Sierra leone and that has been particularly challenging. Not being there in the field, where the problems are really troubles me, because I can see the changes that I can implement.
UYD: What led you to your current career?
AB: In 2010, I was fortunate to meet the Founder of B-Gifted Foundation “Andrew Benson Greene” giving a speech at our School “Prince of Wales”, I was inspired right at that moment and after the speech I was moved to go and speak with him and he told me a lot of great things about making a difference. I volunteered at B-Gifted Foundation for 2 years as a Youth Coordinator and in 2012 then I founded the Youth Millennium Anti-Drug Abuse Project now called the Youth Millennium Foundation, since then I have been driven to effect positive change in my country.
UYD: What is the Youth Millennium Foundation about and what is your vision for it?
AB: The Youth Millennium aims to provide youth affected by drugs, homeless and abused youths, with a future that they can be proud of and call their own. I hope that in the next ten years, my intervention through the Youth Millennium Foundation, will zero the number of youth involved in drugs and transform more than 10,000 youth who are currently involved in drugs to youth who can make a positive contribution to their community and who will no longer face challenges of drug abuse. And I also hope to build a drop in center where youth can go and interact with mentors, educators, and with other youth, where they can learn various skills and trade, which they can use to foster a brighter future.
UYD: If you could solve a world problem what would it be?
AB: If I could solve a problem it would be climate change. I am a big fan of nature, when I see the way we have negatively transformed the Earth in just few years really get me worried, have the imagination that we will one day lose our planet, the only place we can call home in the Cosmos.
UYD: What advice would you give the youth out there looking to blaze their own path?
AB: Being a youth who want to give his or her selfless service to humanity should know that it’s the greatest path he/she will ever have chosen. When I first take up this path as a youth activist, it was challenging, but having the feeling of being part of something bigger than my self is greatest feeling one can endure. I believe that what so ever we put our mind to we put our mind to we can see it through, so never give up, we can change the world one step at a time.
UYD: Now at UYD, we are always looking to find out different ways people use their difference to make a difference. How do you use your difference to make a difference?
AB: Growing up in community where three out of ten youths will make it through high school, was a real challenge, every day of my life I have to overcome temptations from my peers, so I can be what I am today. Every second I pushed my friends farther away from me, there were moment were I wanted to part of them, but overcoming these challenges was a turning part of life. I believe that I was recused from selfless act for a reason, so I believe it my duty to make a difference in my community.
UYD: Where can we find out more about you and what you’re up to?