Liberian Girls: Janice

This article was cross-posted from Scarlett Lion: Liberia

I've been working with UNICEF on a project about Liberian girls for the past few weeks. On Tuesday, I posted about Ruth, and yesterday some portraits, and over the next view days, I'll put up photos and text about Joseta and the workshop.

All of the photos are already up on www.glennagordon.com. 
Read more about UNICEF's project "I have something to tell you."

Photos are of Janice at work, school and youth group. Text refers to when she addressed the workshops sponsored by UNICEF.

“My name is Janice and I’m hurting.”

This is how Janice Pratt begins addressing her peers. She’s a slight girl with a strong voice that says to anyone willing to listen: I’m going to be someone.

She continues: “There are ten great girls right in this room with dreams. Will they ever turn into reality or are we just dreaming?”
Janice is 19 going on 25. She’s mature and composed, well spoken and ambitious.

Clearly she was endowed with gifts of intellect and curiosity but what’s amazing is that these qualities flourished even in war-torn Liberia. There have been more years of war than years of peace during her brief life. But that hasn’t stopped her.

During the two decades of war in Liberia, more than a million people were displaced, and an unknown number died during the fighting, disease, malnutrition, and other obstacles that aren’t limited to the frontlines.

“My greatest dream of all … is to have a world free of wars, hunger, killing, where everyone is someone."

In Liberia, it’s especially hard for girls to achieve their dream. Rape is endemic, females are almost always second to men, and the brunt of poverty is borne by women.
That hasn’t stopped Janice. She understands constraints, but has hope anyway.

“Even if we just be right here,” she says, pausing, “And we just dream and it never comes to pass, that’s okay.”

When Janice isn’t in school or in youth group, she works on a radio show that promotes positive sexual health messages for young men and women throughout Liberia who wouldn’t otherwise have a source of information that’s accessible and targeted. When she isn’t doing that, she dreams of being a filmmaker or a journalist or the second female President of Liberia. “The world has enough riches to go around for everyone,” she continues.

For a girl who has over come financial constraints in a country where school fees cost the good part of most people’s annual income, Janice still has unbridled optimism. She wrote down a few lines on a sheet of paper she’s gripping tightly, but now she’s not looking at the paper. She’s speaking from her heart. She starts crying, and so do some of the girls listening. That’s okay too. Janice adds, “There’s nothing wrong in dreaming.”

Scarlett Lion: Liberia

No comments:

Post a Comment