Monday, June 1, 2009

Mahmud Departs for Cape Town to attend the Global Changemakers African Youth Summit

LTAS Host Mahmud Johnson has left the country to join over 75 other young people to attend the Global Changemakers African Youth Summit, taking place in Cape Town, South Africa. The Summit, which runs from June 3- 6, 2009 is a pre-event to the World Economic Summit on Africa, and will bring together some of the most brilliant young people from the African continent and other parts of the world to, amongst other things, learn, discuss, create and share knowledge and insight on key issues facing the continent, with a focus on creating and implementing on the ground solutions to them; build a network of young social activists and entrepreneurs for and by youth from across Africa and linking them globally, share best practices and organizational tools with which the Changemakers can improve and build their existing grass-roots CAP work and develop new ones; and expose young people to a broad spectrum of individual and organizations that has the capacity to impact in social change including engaging high-level decision-makers at the World Economic Forum on Africa ( those selected to attend the WEF will be representing the views of the wide group with high-level decision-makers at the forum).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


The LTAS Spotlight, this month, features Host Kula V. Fofana. Kula was honored by the Universal Peace Federation and the Youth Federation for World Peace as a Young Peace Ambassador. The occasion was the Global Peace Tour 2009 in Monrovia. Speaking to the LTAS News team after the program, Ms. Fofana dedicated the honor to the young people of Liberia, especially females. “I will prefer you calling me Ambassador Fofana”, she joked.

The Young Peace Ambassadorial title is conferred on young individuals whose lives exemplify the ideal of living for the sake of others, and who dedicate themselves to practices that promote universal moral values, strong family life, inter-religious cooperation, international harmony, and the establishment of a culture of peace.

In a related development, Kula has also been elected Co-Focal Person for the Inter Faith Actions for Peace in Africa (IFAPA- Liberia Charter), a continental institution that strives to forge peace in Africa, using inter-faith perspectives.

LTAS: Behind the Scenes

Listeners love listening to the 30-minute exciting, energy-packed radio show but would probably be incredulous to know how many hours every week need to be put into the production of a single episode of the “Let’s Talk About Sex” radio show. The hit weekly youth radio show is the result of a combined team effort, with the four youth hosts committing up to 40 hours of work each week, in addition to those of other staff and radio producers who work on the team. But even more, there are some prominent organizations and institutions that provide the logistical and technical support needed to make the show formidable tool that it has become today in the fight against HIV and unintended pregnancy in Liberia.

Kula Fofana, Bookman Muapoe, Janice Pratt and Mahmud Johnson are the four young people who present the show. But their work extends far beyond merely sitting in the cozy UNMIL Radio studio and talking. The hosts themselves research content for the show, develop the live show and drama scripts, create the monthly newsletter, manage the web blog, book guests, host outreach events, amongst a myriad of other challenging tasks. Joseph DeMarco is the coordinator of the program. Hear what he has to say about his hosts: “LTAS is a program where the youth control all the programming. They write the script, host the show, create the monthly newsletter, and provide their voice to all of the planning and executing. Working with such talented youth leaves you awestruck at their limitless abilities. My main focus now is continuing to find opportunities to ensure their voice is heard for the benefit of not only their peers, but Liberia as a whole”.

The show has segments and corners that are aired at specific time intervals during the live show- “Fast Facts”; “What’s In Your Hood?”; and the weekly LTAS Drama Series, which has to be pre-recorded. This requires a small crew. Lisa White, Senior UNMIL Radio Producer leads this crew as the official LTAS producer. She is assisted by producer Facia Harris and intern Edwin Genoway.

As the famous adage reads; “money makes the world go round.” LTAS is no exception. This show is funded by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). UNMIL Radio provides the air time, and the Ministries of Health and Social Welfare, and Youth and Sports are partners.

Producing a youth-tailored radio show that serves both the purposes of education and entertainment in contemporary Liberia is not an easy task. But the individuals and institutions throwing their weight behind the LTAS show are not ones to support unchallenging projects. Although the task is demanding, the LTAS show has unending potential in fighting HIV/AIDS and unintended pregnancies among Liberian youths.



Our April LTAS Supporter Spotlight falls on Yvonne Orji!

1: Who is Yvonne Orji? Please tell us a bit about your educational and professional backgrounds.

Yvonne Orji was the PSI/Liberia SmartChoice Outreach Coordinator from October 2008-April 2009. While at PSI she worked with the LTAS hosts on various outreach events and created educational materials to help youth learn the facts about HIV transmission and teenage pregnancy so they can make informed and healthy lifestyle choices. Yvonne also helped create marketing materials for the youth forum during the Colloquium. Her main focus during her stay in Liberia was developing the iLEAD Girls Mentoring Program, which will focus on providing positive adult mentors and role models for young Liberian women to encouraging their academic, personal and professional achievement. Ms. Orji holds a BA in Sociology and an MPH in Global Health Promotion from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. She is passionate about working with youth in development because she firmly believes that young people are excellent catalysts for change.

A native of Nigeria (from the Igbo tribe), Yvonne enjoys traveling the globe and meeting people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Her travels, mostly for humanitarian purposes, have taken her to Belize, the Dominican Republic and now to Liberia. She speaks her native tongue of Igbo, Spanish, English, and is diligently trying to master Liberian English.

Why do you support LTAS?
I support LTAS because it is youth centered, youth driven, and youth focused! Let's face it, youth listen to youth and the LTAS hosts know how to cater their messages on prevention and adopting healthy behaviors to their peers in a way that some adults would not do successfully.

What is your message to young people in Liberia?

Young people, you are the future of this great country. "Mama Liberia" needs you to be the best and brightest YOU that you can be! She needs you well educated, determined, focused and healthy. By making smart choices in your education, profession and relationships, you protect your future, your country and yourself!

Yvonne Fun Facts:

Yvonne is a stand up comedienne and has performed for audiences large and small from Liberia to L.A.
Yvonne is also a model and an actress and was a runner up in the Miss Nigeria in America Pageant in the US.

Favorite Color: Purple (the color of royalty)

Favorite Liberian Sayings: "For true?" "Ehhh Maaaaan!" "Oh!" "No Shaking!"

Favorite Quote: "If you're gonna dream, DREAM BIG!"

Favorite Liberian Memory: The night I arrived in Liberia. It happened to be President Johnson-Sirleaf's birthday and I was fortunate enough to meet her and take a picture with her. She is an amazing woman.

What will Yvonne miss most about Liberia? The wonderful people and friends I've made along this awesome journey and the soothing sound of the ocean at the beach!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

“Your Sex, Your Health”

Aptly dubbed by the LTAS team “Your Sex; Your Health; Your Life; Your Choices”, the month of April saw a comprehensive dissemination of social health related information by the hosts and guests on the Let’s Talk About Sex radio show. The discussions subtly deviated from the mainstream topics of disease and wellness to more commonplace issues like “Making Right Choices: Taking Life to Your Dreams”, “Abortion vs. Early Parenthood”, “The Girl Child in the Home (essentially gender roles and norms in our Liberian setting)”, and “Take Control of Your Life: Don’t go With the Gutter Flow”. As these topics were being discussed, young people were constantly reminded of how important it is to make smart decisions in their days of youth because these decisions tend to have long term effects on their lives.

Participating via SMS, Prince Toe, Jr., an LTAS listener from Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, shared his opinion on the influences of peer pressure: “moving with a group does not matter. But what matters is the kind of group and its objectives”. Earl Carter, another ardent LTAS listener who resides on 20th Street, commended the show’s team and went on to suggest what he thinks is a major contributor to youths’ yielding in to negative peer pressure from their friends; “it all boils down to self-esteem and good morals, virtues which parents must instill in their children.”

The guests who appeared on the show during the April month provided a variety of expertise. Dr. Wilhemina Jallah, an Obstetrician Gynecologist at the JFK Maternity Center, joined the hosts to discuss the topic “Abortion vs. Early Parenthood”. In this episode the adoption laws of Liberia were discussed, as well as the physical and psychological effects of abortions in general-‘back-street’ abortions in particular were heavily discussed. The ever-youthful, and inspirational, President of the Federation of Liberian Youths (FLY), Jimmy Sankatuah, was the guest on the show when they discussed “Making Right Choices: Taking Life to Your Dreams”. Liberian Television Actress/ Producer, Martha Arkosah, who is the In-Profile Daily’s society columnist, brought her animation and realistic insights to the microphone to discuss “Take Control of Your Life: Don’t go With the Gutter Flow”.

The month’s theme, Making Choices, has long been, and still is, a very deep subject of debate amongst various individuals across all spectrum of the society. And though the guests who appeared on the show came from diverse professional backgrounds, one common fact resonated from all their discourses; HIV/AIDS and unintended pregnancy are some of the most widespread and serious consequences of young people making poor choices. With the LTAS show having a nationwide audience amongst Liberian youths, April’s series of episodes on the show gave hundreds of thousands of youths in Liberia a ‘cause to pause’ for a while and review their lifestyles. Hopefully there will be moves made to change for the better.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

LTAS Actively Participates in International Colloquium

March 10, 2009
The LTAS hosts played active roles in the just-ended International Women’s Colloquium, as well as the International Youth Forum that preceded the Colloquium, in various capacities. Mahmud, Janice and Kula were delegates to the Youth Forum, while Bookman served as a volunteer in the Youth Forum’s Secretariat. PSI’s was also one of the hundreds of booths trading wares and products at the Colloquium Trade Fair.

Living together with over 30 other youth delegates in the youth camp at the Baptist Theological Seminary, the LTAS Hosts described the 4-day experience as “once in a lifetime”, as they learned a lot on such pivotal issues as climate change, reproductive health, educational empowerment, women’s leadership, et al. The Youth Forum and the Colloquium also created the avenue for Liberian youths to network with their peers from around the world and share best practices on matters relative to young people, as the colloquium brought together over 800 delegates from Liberia and the rest of the world.

During the plenary session of the MDG-3, LTAS Host Mahmud Johnson served as one of the two youth representatives on the plenary and at the close of the International Colloquium, LTAS Host Janice Pratt read the youths’ final resolution after which she received a heavy round of applause, apparently because of the animation with which she read the resolution.

Janice was one of ten Liberian girls starring in a UNFPA/ UNICEF documentary produced for the Colloquium called “I Have Something to Tell You”. In the documentary, the ten girls write about the past, their dreams and the challenges they face in a country hard hit by years of war and carnage. Some of the girls explained their stories of rape, sexual harassment and rejection. There was awestruck silence in the hall as the documentary was been screened. The life stories of those girls were so powerful; it silenced the most hardened spectator. As Janice put it, “I stood in a room with nine other girls, and the aura felt like it was the most powerful room in the world”.

In the 12-minute documentary, the girls share their aspirations of being educators, presidents, lawyers, etc. But the question is: will they be given the opportunity in a country like ours? According to the producers; “I have Something To Tell You gives a chance to these girls to speak up about the issues that affect them. It gives them a chance to call for support to help them overcome the challenges and reach their dreams which they share with every young woman in the world.” And as LTAS Host Janice closing line in the documentary quotes; “there is nothing wrong in dreaming”.

It is without a doubt that the LTAS show is taking indomitable roots in Liberia. The hosts carried with them to the Colloquium the same grace and charisma that they always exude, and, unsurprisingly, many of the delegates began to exhibit interest in following up on the show!

LTAS: Who’s Out and Who’s In?

The LTAS Team witnessed this month (March) the going out of two of its members, as well as the coming in of two new members. Lydia Nimley, former Coordinator of the Let’s Talk About Sex radio show, contract expired with PSI/Liberia, and she opted not to renew it because she intends to pursue another career path. The new LTAS Coordinator is Joey DeMarco. Joey has a wealth of experience in dealing with youths, and he has worked in many countries around the world, including the United States and Grenada. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the West Virginia State University and a master’s degree in Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. LTAS also received a new Technical Intern to serve as a technical liaison between PSI and UNMIL Radio. Edwin Genoway replaced Wellington Railey, as LTAS Technical Intern.