At a glance: Liberia

Mamiwhe’s Digital Diary: A passionate commitment to education for all

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© UNICEF video 2007
Mamiwhe has recorded her first Digital Diary for UNICEF Radio and Voices of Youth, in which she shares her views and interviews others on their thoughts about the importance of girls’ education.

By Blue Chevigny

NEW YORK, USA, 3 October 2007 – Mamiwhe Kpahgbor, 16, is eager to tell the world what she thinks is important. She wants especially to emphasize what she sees as the most crucial issue for the future of her country, Liberia – namely, the advancement of education for all children.

Over the past few months, she has been recording interviews for the Digital Diaries project of Voices of Youth (UNICEF’s online community for young people) and UNICEF Radio.

Mamiwhe, a 10th grader at a public high school in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, received radio equipment and training from UNICEF.

Making a better future

In the first instalment of her Digital Diary, Mamiwhe speaks about attending school and working with her mother, a seller at the local market, and about the effects of Liberia’s devastating civil war, during which Mamiwhe’s father got sick and died.

“During the war there were a lot of problems,” she says. “Food problems, nowhere to sleep, nowhere to run. The borders were all overflowing. There were many illnesses, and it was so bad. But now the war is over.”

Mamiwhe has become invested in making a better future for herself by getting an education.

“There are some girls out there who want to go to school,” she says. “Some of them are even engaged in prostitution. But given an opportunity [to go to school], they would perform fully.”

Consensus on education priorities

In her diary entry, Mamiwhe makes a plea that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf make girls’ education a priority. “That is my biggest concern right now,” she declares.

She then goes into the community with her recorder and microphone, interviewing people in the market and the streets. She asks them what they would like to tell the country’s president regarding education.

The interviews are striking because of what they have in common; everyone calls for improved, free education for Liberia’s boys and girls.

‘Let our children go to school’

Here are some of the responses Mamiwhe receives:

  •  “I’m asking Madame President to make free education. Let our children go to school.”
  •  “We should be having hope, to tell the president to have free schools so we all can go to school, together.”
  •  “I want her to create free school so my friends who are on the street and not attending school will be able to go to school and better their lives.”

In a country where only about a quarter of all women are literate – and where only 27 per cent of girls and 37 per cent of boys are enrolled in secondary school – Mamiwhe is one of the lucky girls. And like young girls everywhere, she is passionate about her beliefs.

Through her Digital Diary, Mamiwhe has been able to voice her most important concern: access to quality education for all.


 

 

Audio

September 2007:
UNICEF Radio and Voices of Youth Digital Diarist Mamiwhe Kpahgbor of Liberia interviews people in her home community about the education system, particularly for girls.
AUDIO listen

Video

September 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Blue Chevigny reports on the making of Mamiwhe Kpahgbor’s first Digital Diary from Liberia, recorded with equipment supplied by UNICEF.
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