World Mental Health Day - 2020
Everyone who works with me knows that I sign up for every webinar relevant to our cause. This September 20th and 21st, I had the privilege of attending a summit hosted by the Global Youth Mental Health Association, or GYMHA. The title of the summit was "Global Stress Management Revolutions.” The first speaker, Dr. Berman Ahmed, re-iterated and expanded on what I have known for the last 20 years since working in-depth with disadvantaged youth in residential and school settings. I recently had a conversation with a colleague, who echoed the same sentiments.
A few weeks ago, on this blog, you found out about the depraved and gruesome rapes happening in Liberia. From April (when COVID was declared a National Emergency) to June this year, there were over 600 rapes, with a rate that was still climbing. Those numbers themselves are staggering, but the rape-culture there is so pervasive that most victims are children and very young women. Starting in June, horrific reports were made about men brutally attacking toddlers. It was then that women and men in Liberia empowered themselves to stage a peaceful protest from August 27th to 29th at the seat of the Capitol in Monrovia. There, rape is feared more than the pandemic raging against the world. It is a realistic fear.
Please, educate yourself about rape in Liberia and the leaders that stood against it in my previous posts on rape and the subsequent protest on this blog. The person you should hear the details of what came after is the Stella's Girls journalist Mafanta Kromah. Mafanta (pictured at right) writes for the Liberian paper, The Bush Chicken. She, Mariama Konneh, who is our Executive Director in Liberia and Stella's Girls were on the ground at the protest.
Literacy is imperative for everyday life. It is necessary to navigate the world. To make informed decisions, fill out a job application, and decipher the constant and broad range of information you receive each day, you need to read. Endless and clashing stories from the news and through friends are confusing and overwhelming. Doing research on your own and educating yourself on the truth is to become free from other people’s opinions. Your own, educated opinion becomes clear. Your Self is empowered. There is no depth of learning without being able to read.
For a little one to hear Dr. Suess, read to them for the first time, for a child to escape into A Wrinkle in Time, and a parent to drive them to school, reading is essential. Everyone who reads this article takes from what being literate gives. It was what helped me escape when things were dismal at best. To read is the best form of escapism. You learn as you get away from the world around you at the same time as learn about it. Different worlds come to life; you are exposed to various histories and cultures through reading. Even if you’re “not a reader” of books, you read. You can understand what I am writing. And you take it as a given. To you, being literate probably feels more like a right and less like a privilege. It is a right.
Liberian Protest Against SGBV
Rape of babies, girls, boys, and women in Liberia has been rampant for decades. Since the beginning of COVID, instances of rape have ballooned in Liberia. A month ago, over 600 cases of rape had been reported since the pandemic hit. Of those 600 cases, 100 made it to court and almost 50 were acquitted.
The rate at which reports are made of Sexual Gender-Based Violence is still on the rise. This does not include the assaults that go unreported. Nor, does it include women and children that were deceased or displaced as a result of their assault. Liberia is the size of Louisiana State, roughly 43,000 square miles.
My name is Jamie. I'm blessed to be the Creative Content Manager for Stella's Girls, Inc. where our mission is to empower young women to become leaders and social advocates in their communities.