A Liberian female Journalist, Evelyn Kpadeh-Sengbeh, last week started the “Just A Girl Initiative” (JAGI) awareness project, which aims to inform teenage and older girls on the consequences of teenage pregnancy and prostitution.
The launch took place at a local church in Duazon and brought together over 100 girls who participated in sessions on the causes and effects of youth and teenage prostitution from the gender perspective, the health effects of prostitution from a biblical perspective and the benefits of youth conducting themselves as responsible citizens.
Kpadeh-Sengbeh said the event is an introduction to a better out reach to these communities to tackle some of the social problems affecting girls and women.
“As a journalist covering some of these social issues, I felt that I should fill in this gap to sensitize many of the teens, especially the girls, since no one has thought of venturing in this direction,” she added.
She said it is based upon this vision that she and some of her friends established the ‘Just A Girl Initiative’ (JAGI) with their limited resources to discourage teenage pregnancy and prostitution as well as promote responsible citizenship.
Prostitution is an open secret in Liberia acknowledged Sengbeh. She named some entertainment centers and seedy streets in and around Monrovia ‘where the practice is all-encompassing,’ mostly at night.
Sengbeh told the participants that the seminar aims to create awareness among those in attendance to assume the responsibility of helping girls involved in prostitution to desist and pursue a better course in life.
Besides raising awareness on the negative consequences of teenage pregnancy and prostitution, Sengbeh added: “We help girls with education opportunities. Some of them have kids and the money they earn from prostitution cannot support them. Therefore we link them with institutions that are willing to help them to go to school.”
Sengbeh is a beneficiary of the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship. It is expected of the beneficiaries to initiate projects that will impact communities in their respective countries.
“It is one of my inspirations from there (the Fellowship). We were told that we should not sit down to wait on government; we should not wait for donor projects, but we should start something with the little we have.”
The Director of Alfalit International Liberia, Reverend Emmanuel J. Giddings, lauded the effort and described Sengbeh as “someone who is saving a dying starfish by taking it and throwing it back into the ocean.”
He urged young girls and women not to see their present hardships as the end of their future, but strive to obtain better opportunities.
He pledged to support ten girls who will be willing to give up prostitution and street life for education.
Earlier, keynote speaker Ha Pratty Deddeh cautioned that prostitution makes a female vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and the like.
She also stressed that street life causes teenage pregnancy that brings forth “baby by chance and not by choice.”
Meanwhile, a successful visually impaired Liberian, Railey Fallah, urged girls and boys to be focused and set life agendas that will drive them to the kind of future they want.
Fallah lost his sight from a bullet wound in 1992. Despite his blindness, he struggled to obtain a college degree and became a fellow of the Mandela Washington Fellowship. He also called on the young people to prioritize education and exert efforts to go to school.