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Interview with Ruthie Ackerman of Ceasefire Liberia

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♫♫Rising Voices ... Ceasefire Liberia creates a bridge of communication ... between Liberians living in Monrovia and New York Ruthie: I'm a journalist and I am writing a book about ... Liberian refugees living in Staten Island, New York And I had gone to Liberian two times to interview Liberian youth and, as well, spent hours and hours hanging out with and documenting the Liberian youth in Staten Island. And after a while I thought, wouldn't it make more sense ... if there was a space for the Liberian youth to actually ... tell their own story and talk about their own communities. And that's where the idea of having the Ceasefire Liberia blog came along. David: And how has the project gone so far? What has suprised you? Ruthie: I think that it's been really really great. I've been surprised how many people ... different people ... have been blogging on the project. One thing that surprised me ... that I wasn't expecting was that, when I thought about the project before I started it, I thought for sure the Liberians in Liberia would be blogging less than the Liberians in Staten Island just because there would be less access to computers in Liberia ... less access to Internet, electricity, all those things. But actually what I found was that Liberians in Liberia ... have been blogging more consistently and a lot more than the Liberians in the US I think that the problem for Liberians in Staten Island ... if I understand correctly is that, it's not the access for them ... it's that they don't think that their lives are that interesting ... that anything they would talk about about their communities ... they don't feel that anyone would want to listen to anything that they would have to say about their communities so it's more about the content for them So I'm trying to show them films that ... show, look, these are people's everyday lives. Like this past weekend we showed them the movie City of God and I said, look, these are people's lives in Brazil. And yes it's 'everyday life' but yes it's very interesting and can be very beautiful. You can put "Liberia" into Google and get any number of stories about the general things that are going on in Liberia and Monrovia. But what I love about the Ceasefire site is that there are stories that ... I never hear about on any of the other Africa websites or sites dedicated to Liberia Even the Liberian newspapers seem to ... I don't want to say that they are censored but they don't seem to go into some of the everyday issues that everyday Liberians deal with. For example, yesterday we posted a story on the water shortage in Monrovia And I don't remember the exact name, but it's like the Liberian Water Corporation or something like that But Nat Nyuan-Bayjay who is actually the Ceasefire Liberia manager wrote this story that the Liberia Water Corporation had cut off water ... to this community on Bushrod Island, which is in Monrovia. And nobody knew why and there was no warning that the water would be cut off. So everyone in the community was drinking this contaminated water or having to pay for transportation to go into other parts of the city to get water. Stories like that are stories that ... unless you're living in the community and really in touch with the people you wouldn't get those stories. And so that's what's exciting to me ... about having bloggers on the ground in the communities writing. Most people that I speak to never have been to Staten Island. Even people who have lived in New York 15 or 20 years ... they're always like, 'wow, Staten Island!' If they do go to Staten Island maybe they take the ferry over and then ... immediately go back to the mainland ... So, for them I think it would be extremely exciting to just know that there are people on Staten Island, that there are lives there. And the people I know that have even stepped foot on Staten Island say that they didn't know that there were any Black people there at all. So, to find out that not only are there Black people but there's African immigrants ... and a lot of diversity on the island I think is very interesting. We haven't had - like I said - so many blog posts from the Staten Island side but what we have had are some videos which show the community in sort of everyday life. Liberia Independence Day Celebration ♫♫♫♫♫♫ ceasefireliberia.com genocide-records.com ♫♫♫♫♫♫

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 22 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: David Sasaki
Director: David Sasaki
Views: 527
Posted by: oso on Aug 14, 2009

Ruthie Ackerman, founder of Ceasefire Liberia, describes her vision for the project and gives us an update about their recent activities and future plans.

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