-- Veteran journalist Aaron Kollie praises the organization
"I used to be very selfish and didn't like associating with friends," she revealed. "I always used to be all by myself avoiding everybody coming my way. But this training has changed me for good," Ms. Hannah Gonkartee said.
Ms. Gonkartee's speech and articulation before the audience were enough to convince those in attendance, including her parents that she has acquired some knowledge from the training.
She is a newly promoted 11th grader at the P.Y.J Educational Foundation in Paynesville City. The 18 year-old said was listening to the radio one evening when she heard about Youth Media Action (YMA) Vacation Journalism Training. Given her passion for journalism, she immediately registered at a cost of L$2000 (US$10).
Six weeks later, Gonkartee stood proudly among 30 fellow students. They graduated over the weekend, September 7, 2019, after an intensive training in basic journalism, ethics, interview techniques, news gathering and reporting, script writing and photojournalism.
She could not hold back her excitement during the well attended graduation. Dressed in a flowery pink blouse, blue jeans and a black cape to match, she did not hesitate to mount the podium when asked to share her stories about how the training helped her.
"During the training, we learned about teamwork, using photos for storytelling, interview techniques," Hannah emphasized. "We also learned how to be bold and honest because as a Journalist, you are not to lie!"
Another beneficiary of the program, 16 year old Serena Barnee, recounted shyness as one of her many challenges prior to the program. "I used to be scared to share my views and always got angry when criticized by my friends, she said. "But thanks to this opportunity, I am far better than yesterday,"
"We learned how to speak out and accept criticism for improvement; to be curious and above all, teamwork", Serena concluded.
The Vacation Journalism Training was launched by YMA in partnership with the Liberia Broadcasting System. It is a continuation of the LBS media development program for high school students and a great way to keep young people busy during the vacation.
Thirty one students, 23 females and 8 males, between the ages of 8 and 26 years old, registered for the training. They spent three hours daily over the period of six weeks.
In addition to YMA staff, the project featured media experts Hassan Kiawu, Elizabeth Hoff, Samuka Konneh of Internews, ECOWAS radio Raymond Zarbay and Daniel Ankrah of LBS.
The guest speaker, Aaron Kollie is a former child broadcaster, and current owner of Power FM and TV. He welcomed the initiative rating praises on YMA and the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) for their farsightedness,.
He said the Liberian media is in trouble. As such, there is a need to develop a new generation that will take on this professional responsibility in the future.
He believes that training and providing mentorship for high school students will not only address some of the current challenges in the media, but will also help to professionalize the sector. The veteran Liberian journalist at the same time challenged the participants and organizers to remain steadfast and committed to making a difference in these critical times.
YMA Executive Director, Varmah Kamara, thanked the LBS for their continuous support.
Kamara expressed ted that the issues confronting the Liberian media need concerted effort on all fronts for quality information dissemination and a vibrant democracy.
He called on businesses, corporations, local and international NGOs to support YMA activities as they anticipate incorporating more press clubs, especially in rural communities where the program is most needed.
The Chief Executive Producer of YMA/LBS High School Special, Hassan Kiawu, also hailed the LBS management. He then called on parents of the graduates to keep supporting their kids.
Kiawu said that if more young people are empowered through journalism, they will become more productive citizens for sustaining Liberia's future.