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Archive for the ‘Liberia’ Category

This is a guest post by Bertil van Vugt, who works as the content director at Africa Interactive.  Bertil and I met for the first time about a year ago at a tweet up in Amsterdam, though I had known about Africa Interactive’s fantastic work with African media professionals for much longer. I was thrilled to hear from Bertil last week that they’ve been working with Plan in West Africa, and have made 4 videos about the Girls Making Media project that I had written about earlier this month. 

Girls Making Media in Ghana

Men dominate the African media sector. Looking at our own database of over 2000 media-professionals in 50 African countries we see predominantly males. Fortunately we are also working with many talented women throughout the continent. When we were asked to produce videos and case studies about Plan’s Girls Making Media Project we got really exited about the initiative that is preparing young girls for a career in the media sector.

I work for Africa Interactive, a social venture delivering media and communication services with offices in Amsterdam, Nairobi and Accra. As I mentioned earlier we are working with local reporters, camera-crews and photographers throughout Africa to document activities of NGOs, multinationals and governments. While these organizations previously worked with Western crews who travelled to Africa, we work with African media-professionals and guarantee the quality of the productions.

Local film-crews

There are many advantages of working with local crews. They know their way around; they speak the languages and understand the culture since it is theirs. These people can be fixer, translator and journalist at the same time. And not unimportant: the costs are lower compared to flying people in. For this Plan assignment we worked with experienced crews (male AND female) in Lomé (Togo), Bomi (Liberia), Makeni (Sierra Leone) and Sogakope (Ghana). Our, by the way female, employees in Accra and Nairobi did the video editing and we finalized the videos in our Amsterdam office.

GMM

The Girls Making Media project’s goal is to contribute to the elimination of gender discrimination and benefits at least 140 adolescent girls and 30 adult journalists in the most marginalized areas in each country. With this project, girls and adult journalists are trained on various topics aiming at increasing their capacity to produce quality information concerning girls’ rights. It is also empowering girls to advocate on issues concerning their well-being.

In the four videos we focus on the three-year program (which started one year ago) and show the development, achievements and challenges so far. We hear about the effect the project has on the girls and their communities. Also, the girls explain how they see themselves after learning media skills and talking about gender related issues on the radio and TV.

Liberia

Ghana

Sierra Leone

Togo

Girls interact with journalists

Together with the Plan West Africa office in Ouagadougou we developed the idea that the video-shoot should also be an opportunity for the girls to interact with our crews and learn from them. During the filming days there was room for questions and sharing of experiences. We received positive feedback from the crews and the Plan offices about the cooperation with the girls. I would like to use this space to thank the camera-crews who did a great job to create the videos:  Comfort + Yudawhere (Liberia), Wotay + Idriss (Sierra Leone), Paul + Gary (Ghana) and Rodrique + Anselme (Togo).

Let me conclude by saying that I hope to welcome the girls to our network after they have finalized the GMM project!

If you are looking for any content on your activities in Africa, just contact me via e-mail: bertil [at] africanews.com or Twitter: @brutuz.

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From the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, March 22

The organization where I work has been present on the border between Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia for awhile now, supporting Ivorians who are escaping the conflict as well as the Liberian communities that are receiving people from Cote d’Ivoire.  (See another good map here.)

What is it like for those who are fleeing Cote d’Ivoire? An account came in by email this morning from our disaster specialist who just returned from Nimba County, located on the border. He told of a woman he had met who arrived in Liberia completely naked, with three children under the age of 6.  She had fled the violence in Abidjan on a Red Cross truck. Then she’d walked, carrying her baby, from the Western town of Daloa to the town of Giglo, passing near Duekoue (where a massacre is said to have taken place). She then continued on to the Liberia border; about 250 km. She had been travelling with her sister and her sister’s 2 children but her sister didn’t make it to Liberia.  She’s buried in the forest. My colleague described the woman’s children as so distressed they can barely speak.

My colleague went on saying that ‘Some people told me that armed men came to their villages and attacked them.  They saw neighbors killed by gunfire, just metres away from them.  Other people told me they fled to small houses in the bush, for fear their villages might be attacked.  But it didn’t make any difference.  When armed men came to the village and found no one there, they’d simply come into the bush, find people and kill them. The people I talked with told me the clashes were the result of ethnic problems.  Their ethnic group was being persecuted by others.’

He describes mostly women and children crossing the border from Ivory Coast and only a few men.  ‘I don’t know what happened to the men and boys.  Some young people told me their brothers and fathers were fighting for one of the sides in the conflict in Ivory Coast.  But no one seems sure of what is happening back in their home countryMany people who have fled Ivory Coast are staying with relatives just over the Liberia border.  Along the border area, many people are of the same ethnic group so there is no trouble with the newcomers.  However, every day, as the fighting grows more intense, more and more people arrive in Liberia.’

The term ‘endgame’ has been all over the headlines for the past 3 or 4 days now, but the ‘end’ of Gbagbo doesn’t mean that things will go back to normal for most people any time soon. Last I heard there are a million people displaced internally and 200,000 externally. I rather doubt it’s the ‘end’ of the crisis for them.

There was a saying people used a lot in El Salvador, though I hear it originates in Africa:  When the elephants fight, it’s the ants who suffer.

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