Monday, June 1, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
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.
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?
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 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
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,
The guests who appeared on the show during the April month provided a variety of expertise. Dr. Wilhemina Jallah, an Obstetrician Gynecologist at the
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
Thursday, April 2, 2009
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!
Hear why Lisa White supports LTAS:
“[I support LTAS] because its goal is very important; to educate young people here in Liberia about making good choices, particularly when it comes to sexual activity. And, I like the program- and the mission- because it gives young people correct information. So, it’s a place where young people can come and listen to other young people like themselves, who are doing good things; giving them great information about how to stay safe, how to make the right choices in their lives, and how to be happy.”
Message to young people:
“I encourage all young people to really focus on developing themselves and their talents, and to delay sexual activity for a while until they get to know really who they are and what it is that they want for their lives, and achieve something.”
Mahmud was selected from a pool of Liberian youths who applied earlier this year for the post.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
2009 ushers in new things for the LTAS show. A potent addition to the radio show is the new 5-minute weekly “Let’s Talk About Sex” drama series that will portray real life issues that affect the young people of Liberia.
Drawing a cast of some of the finest up-and-coming young actors and actresses in Liberia, the LTAS drama series has a line-up, which includes Yadel Nimley, Bookman Muapoe (acted in Liberian movie “Juetey” as the village prince), Raisa Mathies, Janice Pratt (produced her own movie), Mahmud Johnson (acted in Liberian Movie “Complex Decision”), Emmanuel “EJ” Gittens, Kula Fofana, gospel singer Princess Pitman, and ace Liberian writer and actress– and now the LTAS Coordinator- Lydia Nimley.
From focus group discussions and surveys done, the LTAS crew has found out that a larger portion of our audience enjoys and understands the “Myth vs. Reality” segment, which was a one minute colloquial drama on the show. Hence, that segment has been expanded into a full series that will be aired in weekly episodes.
Watch out as LTAS gets bigger and better each passing day!
The hosts used the time to talk to the audience, which also consisted of older women, on the importance of sex education between parents and children. As the hosts left the premises, it was evident that they had indeed made an impact, as the attendees of the program could not stop congratulating them and asking about the show. A riot was almost caused when the hosts began to distribute their HIV prevention brochures.
The center is a vocational training institute sponsored by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, which trains young women in areas of pastry, hotel management, tailoring, computer science, et al.
“And Still I Rise,” adapted from a poem by the highly-acclaimed African-American poet and actress, Maya Angelou, was the title of the women’s concert, organized by UNMIL in collaboration with the Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism, PSI-Liberia, and other organizations.
The evening, which brought together women and young girls from all sectors of the Liberian society- ranging from market women to H.E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf- was one of pure bliss, as local female artistes lit the stage performing hit renditions of songs from the 70’s and 80’s such as Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” “Invincible Woman,” etc, as well as contemporary hits such as Whitney Houston’s “On my Own,” Beyonce’s “Listen,” Julie Endee’s “Jigga, Jigga,” et al.
Performing a rendition of Whitney Houston’s “On my Own” was SmartChoice® Outreach Intern Princess Pittman. The Liberian gospel music icon who now works with the PSI/Liberia, wowed the audience and received a standing ovation.
The night was also lighted by a live drama performance. The star of the drama was LTAS host, Janice Pratt, who gracefully played the role of Lovetta, a promiscuous young woman, who later turns into a good girl. Janice who is known as the “quiet one” amongst her co-hosts stunned everyone, including her PSI colleagues with her compelling delivery of her character.
With the LTAS show gradually taking over Monrovia, more and more people are becoming fans of the show on a daily basis
The dialogue, which brought together women leaders, youth activists, and students, joined Liberian women leaders and youths to their counterparts in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Tanzania, Egypt, and Sierra Leone via a videoconference.
Moderated by Counselor Yvette Chesson Wureh of Liberia, who is the Manager of the International Women’s Colloquium, the videoconference started off with the introduction of various moderators in the other participating countries, amongst which were Dr. Leila Takla, Board Member of the Suzanne Mubarak Women’s International Peace Movement in Egypt; Ms. Sri Danti, Deputy Minister for Gender Mainstreaming Affairs, Ministry of Women Empowerment in Indonesia; Mr. Ayoub Rioba, veteran Tanzanian journalist, who is now a lecturer of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Dar-es-Salam; and Dr. Neela Gunasekera, Chairperson of the National Committee on Women in the Ministry of Child Development and Women Empowerment in Sri Lanka.
After the introductions, Cllr. Chesson-Wureh interviewed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on a wide range of issues relative to women’s leadership and empowerment. Thereafter, the various countries formed breakaway groups to have discussions on what actions need to be put into place to ensure that women are able to genuinely compete with their male counterparts.
The youths identified factors such as early pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, male chauvinism, tradition, and illiteracy as major impediments to women’s empowerment and leadership. Their ideas and recommendations were documented in a two-page paper that was presented to the Colloquium Manager for deliberations during the International Women’s Colloquium, which will be a meeting of women from all around the world who would be coming together to share success stories and best practices on women’s leadership, empowerment, and security.
At the end of videoconference, the Liberian youths had the opportunity to interact one-on-one with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as Cllr. Chesson read each person’s brief biography and the work that they do. LTAS Host Mahmud Johnson used the opportunity to present the PSI/ LTAS IEC packet to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Written by Mahmud Johnson
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