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At a glance: Liberia

UNICEF Radio Digital Diaries: Motorbikes in Monrovia

© UNICEF Liberia/2009/ Gordon
Josephine Zogbaye, 18, from Liberia, one of the participants in a youth radio workshop supported by UNICEF. Josephine’s story was about Liberia’s culture of motorbikes.

MONROVIA, Liberia, 10 December 2009 – "Everywhere you go in Liberia, you will see motorbikes,” says Josephine Zogbaye, 18. “Many people don’t have access to cars, so anytime I’m going somewhere, I take a motorbike to avoid long distance walks so I won’t be late.”

As useful as motorbikes are in Liberia, however, there are downsides. 

“Motorcyclists in Liberia don’t drive with care,” Josephine says.  “If you’re not careful, they will damage your life.”

Monrovia radio workshop

In August, Josephine was one of the participants in a week-long radio production workshop for seven young people from Liberia. UNICEF Radio, UNICEF's ‘Back on Track’ programme on Education in Emergencies and Post-Crisis Transition, the UNICEF Liberia programme and Talking Drum Studios conducted the workshop with three boys and four girls chosen from around the country.

At the workshop, the youths learned how to record, edit, write and produce a radio story of their own. To tell her story, Josephine visited the trauma unit of a hospital, the local police headquarters and a Monrovia motorbike union. The young journalist learned that serious motorbike injuries happen daily, often because drivers are not wearing the proper helmets or shoes, or because they are driving recklessly. 

But Josephine also learned that the life of a motorbike driver is far from easy. Many of the bikers are former soldiers. Most have little education and struggle to make enough money to support their families.

“I have two children,” the head of the motorbike union told Josephine.  “If they take my motorbike from me, how will they go to school?”  

Rights of children

UNICEF’s Liberia programme broadcast Josephine’s story to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which grants children the right to a safe environment.

This was the second in a series of workshops conducted by UNICEF Radio and the Back on Track programme. Their aim: to bring young people's perspectives into the debate around education in emergencies and post-crisis situations – and to commemorate the CRC.

Meanwhile, UNICEF's Liberia programme continues to work with community radio programmes, involving new youth journalists in its programmes and empowering young people by giving them the chance to broadcast their voices throughout the country.




Digital Diarist Josephine Zogbaye, 18, talks about motorcycles and road safety in Liberia.
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