Wantoe Teah Wantoe was born on December 24, 1994 in Montserrado County, Liberia, to Mr. Samuel Diakeseh Wantoe, a former Inter-con Security personnel and currently a pensioner, and the late Gbassay Sambolah, a former business woman.
Growing up, he attended a nearby junior high school in his community, the Lacy Kofi Memorial School, and finished schooling at the Calvary Baptist Church School System. There, he graduated as salutatorian of his graduating class in July 2014.
Currently, he is a student at Stella Maris Polytechnic Mother Patern College of Health Sciences, studying social work, serves as the secretary general of the National Children and Youth Advisory Board, and a member of a Global Youth Committee that seeks to help steer, develop, and implement “Global Voice for Change”. The project, which was launched by him and a few other youth, supports young people around the world to connect, learn and advocate together. Within the span of just two years, it has connected young people working with Plan International in over 14 countries advocating on issues including humanitarian action, climate change, and girls’ rights in the beginning of 2014. In addition to the GVC project, he has also been a champion for the fight against Sexual Gender Based Violence (#SGBV) since he was 9 years old. Wantoe participates in advocacies, rallies, petition protests, awareness campaigns, as well as dialogues and meetings concerning national policies. In 2015, he was selected as a youth representative to the Independent National Human Rights Commission of Liberia.
In 2014, he was an active responder in the Ebola outbreak. He assisted by visiting quarantine e-zones partaking in media talk shows with prevention messages, provided psychosocial support for Ebola orphans and semi-orphans, and advocated for them locally and internationally by sharing their existing challenges and difficulties with the rest of the world through writing blogs.
Amazingly, he and his team conducted the first assessments of Ebola orphans by estimating the number of orphans and semi-orphans during the Ebola outbreak and what they needed. They asked for support from NGOs and the government and advocated and secured support for clothing, food, shelter, and education for the orphans. Furthermore, he carried out a national petition to increase budgetary support for schools, because all schools nearby were closed and halted for a whole year due to the Ebola outbreak.
In 2015, He attended the World Humanitarian Summit Global Youth Consultation at the Hamad Bin Khalifa University – Qatar Foundation (HBKU QF) Student Centre in Doha, Qatar. There, he interacted with the Former United Nations Youth Envoy Ahmad Alhendawi by sharing his work. After reading Wantoe's blog posts, Mr. Alhendawi highlighted the humanitarian challenges described in his work in his opening statement of the conference. While there, he participated in thematic discussions with over 300 students from diverse countries. Topics ranged from youth contribution to humanitarian action to the creation of a space to allow the outlook and ideas of the youth to be incorporated into the UN Secretary-General’s report along with the then-pending World Humanitarian Summit. This conference provided a platform for Wantoe to enhance his knowledge on current global and regional challenges, in order to meet humanitarian needs. Together with other participants, Wantoe helped in crafting the Doha Youth Declaration on Reshaping the Humanitarian Agenda.
In 2016, he traveled to Istanbul, Turkey to attend and deliver a preliminary statement at the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit. The Summit was a global call to action by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The Summit convened 9,000 participants from 173 countries, including 55 Heads of State and Government, hundreds of private sector representatives, and thousands of people from nongovernmental organizations with the goal of re-inspiring and reinvigorating a commitment to humanity and to the universality of humanitarian principles. In addition, it focused on initiating a set of concrete actions and commitments aimed at enabling countries and communities to better prepare for and respond to crises, and be resilient to shocks.
His statement featured the Ebola pandemic and included a personal reflection particularly around mobilizing with other youth during the Ebola virus disease. It focused on the impact he had created on local leaders, the education petition that they gathered, and challenges he, along with the rest of his community, faced toward building back their resilience, health and health care systems in a humanitarian setting.
The Summit generated more than 3,000 commitments to action and launched more than a dozen new partnerships and initiatives to turn the Agenda for Humanity into meaningful change for the world's most vulnerable people. While in Istanbul, he also had the opportunity to interact with the Former United Nation Volunteers (UNV) Executive Director Rachard Dictus and UNICEF Director Anthony Lake, along with the European Union Commissioner Christos Stylianides and other stakeholders, sharing his work and vision for resilience as well as campaigning for the endorsement of the youth compact.
On the basis of his work and the satisfaction he derived from it, he found himself drawn to a new career pathway – he wanted to devote his life to social work. Now that he is studying social work, he aspires to brave through the tough circumstances he will inevitably face in order to resolve crises, bring about positive alternatives, and advocate for change whilst mitigating current challenges. He hopes to acquire a Ph.D. in Social Work.
In the future, Wantoe hopes to continue serving as a potential change-maker. He wants to work in a series of cross-cutting humanitarian organizations with the aim of providing aid and enhancing lives, beginning with his country, then extending it to the rest of the world. His ultimate dream is to serve as the Head of Humanitarian Affairs at the United Nations.