A highlight from Prof. Chris Blattman, economist and political scientist at the University of Chicagos Harris School of Public Policy
Being sort of outreach and social worker and we just talked to them and every time we do that then we leave a drug dan or something and and somebody would would come up to me and to come up to him. Rather as we're leading maybe shining shoes across the street or selling shoes out of a wheelbarrow or something. Any greek johnson. Very excitedly in the catch up and until he has no one another and the first time. The guy pointed to the drug. Dan and he said oh. Well i used to be like those guys. And then i then i went to johnson's program and now you now. I changed my life and and i was like. Oh and then that happened. The next day happened the day after. That would keep meeting these young man. So i used to be like that pickpocket or used to and then johnson really helped me turn my life around and And so i said to johnston like what is this weekend with this program and talks about like personal transformation of this didn't make any sense to me and so i actually had them write it down. I was like okay. let's go. We sat in front of a computer for a few days in a bar and just wrote down activity by giving day by day. What they do and my wife psychologist And we actually do a lot of our work together. She was off in the golden diamond mines. They mentioned helping other projects while i was doing this. And when she comes back. I showed this tour and i remember that guy johnson. What does this look like to you. And she says oh. This looks like cognitive behavioral therapy like haven't seen it quite like this before but but this seems to seems like has echoes of of some stuff we do in the us. It's just applied to different things. It's supplied to being less aggressive and being less criminal and being more of a mainstream adopting a mainstream identity rather than being a renegade or a outcast and and so So and so. That's and that's a good description. They basically spend eight or ten weeks in. Small groups led by one of the people. Johnson's train sometimes johnson facilitating basically trying to recognize what they're really problematic. Behaviors are to do with aggression and this identity in this lifestyle. They've chosen and practicing small ways to sort of think differently or act differently. In circumstances basically practicing being a faking being a different kind of person until become second nature which is something we all do. And i'll have done in our lives so this is this is the Sort of i don't know term. Is chris but troubled. Young people right. Yeah but we try doing the most trouble. i mean. these guys weren't troubled. These guys were like professional stick up artists or or you know potential mercenaries and we were. We were deliberately went. Searching for the the people we thought would be the most likely to engage in political violence if it broke out okay and so you just to get an idea media. What does this sort of the demographics. What's the population ebbed right. It's a tiny country. People might not struggle to think of where it is on a map. it's It's it's an former american colony in the sense it's where blacks From free blacks mostly free. Born blacks return in the early middle nineteenth century from maryland and virginia and whatnot to africa. And it was the place where the americans assisted them in settling and then of course. There's a huge indigenous population that's intermingled and but it's it's tiny. It's it's on the coast of west africa right beside cote d'ivoire it's it's maybe just four million people if the roads are any good you could drive across it in a day. The roads are not very good. Takes days to get across it. But it's it's this little country on the on the coast it's tropical. It's i think it's the wettest country in the world because it's basically just a lot of tropical rainforest swamp hugging the coast and it's pretty young like a lot of countries in that region and it's pretty poor like if i think if you win when people ranked countries on the human development index It's about one or two notches below afghanistan.