|UNICEF Digital Diarist from Ghana, Bernice Akuamoah, sightseeing in London during her internship at the Al Jazeera network studios there.|
By Blue Chevigny
NEW YORK, USA, 11 December 2007 – Bernice Akuamoah, 21, lives in Accra, Ghana, where she has just started her third year at university. She was the first person to create a Digital Diary with UNICEF Radio and the Voices of Youth online community – using recording equipment supplied by UNICEF to tell her story of teenage life in Accra in a six-part series.
This past summer, Bernice worked as an intern at Al Jazeera’s network studios in London. She had met some of the network’s staff members when they travelled to Accra to do a story about life in the city for the Al Jazeera English programme ‘48’, which led to her internship in the British capital.
During her time in London, Bernice recorded another Digital Diary for UNICEF Radio and Voices of Youth – a two-part story about her experiences living and working for an international news outlet.
Growing up in female in Ghana
At one point in her story, Bernice tells listeners that it is her birthday and discusses what she wants for the future.
“I feel more responsible than ever to be a better person and to work on the things that are important to me,” Bernice says, going on to confide that she finds it particularly difficult, as she becomes an adult, to find her way in the world.
“The time has passed where women were only deemed fit for the kitchen,” Bernice notes. “Now you find Ghanaian women in various managerial positions and running businesses. You feel that as a young woman growing up, you need to be a better career woman and manage this with being a better mother and wife. I think sometimes it’s a bit difficult to mix up all these roles and be good at it.”
Youth voices in the media
Later in the diary, Bernice interviews the producer of ‘48’, Amanda Palmer, her supervisor during the internship at Al Jazeera.
“There are lots of voices in this world,” Ms. Palmer tells Bernice. “People who are older get their voices heard a lot more than young people. I wanted to do a show that gave an intelligent voice to young people.”
Bernice hopes to take what she has learned during the internship into future work in journalism. The experience, she says, “has shown me that I can do whatever I want in life. I want to show the people of the world how my country is, and what the needs of children are.”
In particular, Bernice wants to change the way Africa is portrayed in much of the media. “I agree there are problems, but there is also hope,” she explains. “People who live in the developed world have the same hopes and dreams as people who live in the rest of the world, including Africa.”