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!