For most teenagers that grew up in the 1980s, the name Caleb Domah was synonymous with basketball as James Salinsa Debbah was to soccer. The five-foot-seven Pythons Basketball team point guard’s diminutive stature could have prevented him from shooting for the stars, but as it turned out, Caleb used his natural pint size God-given height to become a life sized idol.
Waltzing through towering opponents like David Teah of Uhuru Kings, Othello Diago of IE and Hornets fame and Orea Wright of Barrolle and IE, Caleb Domah became the heartthrob of the Liberia Basketball Federation (LBF), winning the hearts and souls of thousands of basketball fans and supporters with his dribbling wizardry, his uncanny passing instincts and those jawdropping three-pointers that earned him the Pythons’ Most Valuable Player five times and a spot in the Liberian National Basketball team for five years. Of course, those feats also made him to become the Most Valuable Player of the National Basketball League. Fast forward 2015. Liberia’s version of NBA’s Spud Webb is now out of the game physically, understandably due to age. But that doesn’t mean Caleb has forgotten the game that made him. A graduate of the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary in Monrovia, Caleb Domah is now a reverend minister of the Gospel, using his ecclesiastical vocation to change the lives of inner city kids through sports and education. A Typical Day “I get up every morning thanking God for blessing me as I look for opportunities to be a blessing to the less fortunate. I ask myself every morning how I can care for the kids today. How can I give back to the community that made me who I am? So I go out looking for opportunities to share my life with others,” Rev. Caleb Domah tells The Capitol Insider. The former basketball star feels saddened that the youths have become distracted by activities that have nothing to do with education, sports and health. “We’ve gone through a bad civil war, and we’ve gone through the Ebola crisis. What lessons have we learned to change the story for our kids?” The solution, Rev. Caleb Domah insists, lies in remolding the minds of the youths, especially our primary and elementary school-going children, through academic pursuits and sports. Through his youth-based organization, YouthConnect Liberia, the former basketball star is using sports, civic education and basic nutrition to change the game for a good number of Liberian children, many of whom grew up not knowing much about sporting recreational activities like basketball or eating a hearty meal during the civil war. Rev. Caleb Domah and his hardworking staff spend the bulk of their time, from morning to night, engaging inner city kids in Logan Town, New Kru Town and Monrovia’s main city center, Broad Street, teaching them basketball and life skills. “I must give back to the community, because it is the community that made me who I am today,” he says. His YouthConnect Liberia is dedicated to educating children and young adults, fostering their ability to think for themselves and to make moral decisions and develop satisfying, emotionally intimate relationships through investments in human and capacity development. “YouthConnect Liberia believes that investments in education and career training will help Liberia’s youth become self-sufficient and better able to reestablish sustainable communities and nuclear families,” Rev. Caleb Domah tells The Capitol Insider. YouthConnect Liberia has been involved with youth empowerment through, training seminars, workshops, basic skills training, health awareness for adolescents, child participation and protection, after school programs for children, computer literacy training programs and the provision of scholarships to a limited number of school-going children. It has been a difficult task matching the many pressing needs with the limited available resources, Rev. Domah disclosed. YouthConnect Liberia ‘s mission, according to its founder, is dedicated to ending the difficult and negative circumstances that force young people into becoming socially and economically disadvantaged. In order to achieve this, YouthConnect Liberia is working with communities in supporting and empowering the disadvantaged young people through mentoring, leadership development, protecting and integrating them into society as independent and responsible citizens. Rev. Caleb Domah and his YouthConnect team seem focused on empowering the children of Liberia through education and sports. YouthConnect Liberia in collaboration with its partner, Feed the Future, worked throughout the Ebola crisis to identify 204 Ebola orphans, and provided them with assistance through their community leaders. “We also provided clothes, toys and food to 13 Orphanages and children in 6 other communities through our At-Risk-Kids Program,” Rev. Domah says, noting further that through the program’s auxiliary project, “No Child Left Behind” program, YouthConnect and Feed the Future are developing reading room for 15 community schools in impoverished communities in Montserrado, Margibi and Gbarpolu counties. Liberia, Rev. Domah says, must be reclaimed through empowerment of the youths, especially primary and elementary school-going kids. “Unless we get back to our kids and teach them discipline, love for country and respect for tradition and culture, we will get nowhere.” Besides the educational empowerment program, Rev. Caleb Domah’s YouthConnect program also targets school feeding for elementary schools. “We started on February 23, 2015 and expect school feeding program for elementary schools to feed more than 5,000 students this year,” he tells The Capitol Insider. The thrust of the YouthConnect Program lies in its Early Childhood teacher development program where teachers in Monsterrado and Nimba Counties have received trainings. The program’s “Play-Right” Program, geared towards mentoring and leadership development for 4 to 14 year olds, is designed to mentor young people through sporting programs. According to Rev. Caleb Domah, this aspect of the program provides an important mechanism to explore positive ways that encourage academic excellence, sports development, accountability and discipline, conflict management skills and leadership ability. Rev. Domah also believes that through his YouthConnect Program, the beautiful game of basketball can be reintroduced and ingrained into the sporting activities of the entire country. “Liberia was the first country in Africa that introduced basketball as a major sporting event. Today we cannot even qualify for the Mano River Union tournament,” Rev. Domah tells TCI, noting further that training inner city kids in basketball techniques and skills while extending such trainings to the leeward counties will help to promote the game.