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AndStill

Great news! AND STILL PEACE DID NOT COME has been selected for Starbucks Digital Network’s in-store reading club. Starbucks Digital Network provides exclusive access to film, tv, newspaper, and book content.  This content will only be accessible to consumers while they are in the wifi space of the store.

Starbucks selects two books every two weeks that they will make 100% available for reading online in the store—so this is an amazing opportunity to create a buzz about the book through word of mouth.  The consumer can read as much as they want while they’re in Starbucks wifi but they lose access when they leave the store.  If the consumer enjoyed what they were reading, they can return to the store to read more or they can purchase the ebook through the iBookstore.

The title will go live on 3/22/11 and be taken down on 4/5/11.

AndStill

“We must know each other’s stories to exist in each other’s eyes. In And Still Peace Did Not Come, Agnes Umunna brings us the stories of child soldiers, brave women, the despair and new hope of Liberia, and her own personal journey. This book is a gift. Accept it.”
—Gloria Steinem, writer, feminist organizer

“Agnes Umunna has captured so much in this compelling book. I can hear the voices of the boy soldiers, I can hear the cries of the women and children whose lives have been ravaged by a senseless war, and I can feel and see how one exceptional spirit can make such an enormous difference, even under the worst of circumstances.”
—Abigail Disney, Series Producer, Women, War & Peace, THIRTEEN/WNET.ORG

“A compelling journey through the horrors of the Liberian civil war and the lives of so many children who were on the front lines of this national nightmare. Despite this, the book offers equal measure of humanity and decency and gives us hope that there can be recovery. A highly recommended book for anyone interested in the human impact of war and the struggle to survive.”
—Tom Crick, Associate Director, Conflict Resolution Center, The Carter Center

Download Press Release

Agnes Umunna

Agnes Umunna

The Liberian Civil War (1989-1996 and 1999-2003) was one of the bloodiest in Africa’s history, claiming over 200,000 lives and displacing a million more. During the fourteen years of turmoil, this Northwest coastal African nation was shattered by unspeakable violence and brutality, crimes against humanity, and corruption. Today, Liberia is recovering from its harrowing past, trying to heal the wounds of a scarred country. As part of the healing process, the Liberian government is encouraging those involved in the war—both victims and perpetrators—to come forward and tell their stories, acknowledge the past, and vow to move forward. Agnes Kamara-Umunna, a native Liberian now living in Staten Island, New York, is a foot soldier for this cause, coaxing former child soldiers to share their tragic histories in order to free themselves and help their country move on. AND STILL PEACE DID NOT COME: A Memoir of Reconciliation (March 22, 2011; Hardcover; Hyperion) is Agnes’s emotional story of war, and finding peace among the ruins.

AND STILL PEACE DID NOT COME is Agnes’s personal history interweaved with her retelling of and personal testimonies from child soldiers and other victims of the war. The stories here are diverse—often traumatic, but also hopeful and deeply moving. Agnes was born in Liberia, a child of relative privilege who at first refused to believe that her beautiful country would be torn apart by war. When her father’s house was riddled with bullets during Charles Taylor’s violent coup, she realized the violence had indeed come to her. From the day her father
took them both across the border to relative safety in Sierra Leone, Agnes experienced the feeling of being hunted. She writes, “Your eyes change, your ears change. Your skin crawls with the unremitting, tactile knowledge someone may be behind you, ready to leap.” This feeling would haunt her for the next fourteen years, as one of the most brutal, bloody civil wars in history unfolded in her native Liberia.

After the war, Agnes returned to Liberia to host the radio program Straight from the Heart at a UN-sponsored radio station in Monrovia. Boldly, she sat down in the studio with victims, warlords, and government officials. And then, she did what no one else was yet doing—she went to find one of the war’s cruelest consequences: child soldiers. She walked the ghettos and slums of the war-torn capital, finding former child soldiers and convincing them to share their stories on the radio. Today, she continues to serve as a statement taker for the Liberia Truth & Reconciliation Commission, focusing mostly on Staten Island, home to the largest Liberian community outside of Africa.

The stories Agnes weaves in her memoir are borderless, timeless, and appeal to our shared humanity. AND STILL PEACE DID NOT COME is a testimony to a nation’s descent into the horrors of civil war and its subsequent rise out of the ashes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Agnes Fallah Kamara-Umunna was born in Liberia. After the war, she hosted the radio program Straight from the Heart in the capital city of Monrovia and was a statement-taker for the Liberia Truth & Reconciliation Commission. She lives in New York City, where she continues to volunteer for the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, taking oral statements from Liberians now living in the United States.

Coming Soon! One Liberia Advocacy Radio FM 103.5

Posted by Agnes on November 24, 2010
Posted in Uncategorized  | 2 Comments

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One Liberia Advocacy Radio FM 103.5 is an independent and a non-governmental Radio Station made up of local female and international journalists that will operate independent news and information from the voices in the communities in Liberia. One Liberia Advocacy Radio FM will aim to overcome lack of information from the communities.

Through its trustworthy radio services, One Liberia Advocacy Radio  FM will play a crucial part in rebuilding and maintain peace and reconciliation in Liberia.

One Liberia Advocacy Radio FM 103.5 will aim to strengthen and support local female victims of the war in Liberia

Our mission is to build and support for female victims from the war in Liberia to be able to talk about issues that matters to their heart during and after the war in Liberia, using the radio and to become women radio producers and broadcasters in their communities and country. As a women radio project, we have trained female victims of the war in Liberia to approach journalism and broadcasting from a social justice framework

The outreach unit has been working since we started work in the communities in Liberia. Realizing that the key element to peace and reconciliation in Liberia lies in the awareness and hence the interest of local communities, In addition to its community involvement the Community Out-Reach unit plays an important role in the communities we have worked with survivors in Liberia.

The Community Out-Reach Unit activities varied from Student activities, media outreach, Friends of  SFTH.

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Straight From The Heart Group Inc has announced the advent of a Community radio station in Liberia, which will focus on educating rural women ahead of the 2011 General and Presidential Elections.

According to SFTH Media and Outreach Director Macdonald Metzger, the station will broadcast to over half of the country’s estimated 3.5 million population, using stationed relayed transmitters across the country.

Mr. Metzger said several specialized programs will be created to highlight and reflect the views of rural women who over the years have not had the opportunity to speak out on civic issues.

“We will create several programs, such as “Dis Voting Business” which is a common Liberian way of speaking about elections. Programs such as Dis Voting Business gives rural women the platform to speak their minds on the 2011 Presidential polls”

SFTH seeks to create the platform where women will speak to women and help get the message of peace building and national reconciliation across to the entire country.

The station is expected to be launched before December of this year.

Website Update

Posted by Agnes on April 8, 2010
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You can now donate to our cause through NYCharities.org. See Contact page for more details.

Art Transforms Women Lives

Posted by Agnes on January 20, 2010
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Picture 2By C. Winnie Saywah

It is believed by aged-old tradition that a woman’s place is usually in the home and at the back of a man but the modernization of human existence has changed that belief and makes women the best part of the global society.

Women are now considered a better part of everything that must move the world to its next level and so a humanitarian organization with a quest to change the lives of girls in Liberia especially those associated and or affected by the war was keen on engaging some girls in the Samuel K. Doe community through a movie named, “Who Does She Think She Is”?

“Who Does She Think She Is” is produced by Mystic Artist Film Production in association with Wellesley Centers for Women, was screened yesterday, January 14, by “Straight From The Heart Group” as a pilot project to enlighten the minds of girls on how to become dependent inspite of the odds of life.  The movie featured five women artists involved with their diverse household chores and at the same time struggling to lead creative lives while balancing family and motherhood. “Who Does She Think She Is” portrays real women who are a testament to both the heartbreak and the beauty of a 21st century life lived in art. “Sometimes you feel that society does not like what you do; as a women it is not about doing it but about doing it so good,” the artist said.

Read More at The Inquirer

During the Liberian civil war, my parents were not together precisely.  My father had sought refuge in neighbouring country, Sierra Leone. Considering the  tension within our community, the Samuel K. Doe Boulevard (SKD), we (my mother and us) decided to move as a family seeking a better place.

On our way with no where special in our mind, we met some rebels at the Stephen Tolbert Estate Bridge commonly known as “Double Bridge”.   While there, my mother was searched by one the rebels’ leaders named Mango Menlor, who was a Special Forces trained by Charles Taylor to attack Liberia. He was among the first group of Liberians rebels that attack the country on December 24th, 1989.

After searching my mother, they saw that she had a huge amount of money which was taken away from her.  Then, believing that my mother would report them to some senior commandos, Menlor ordered my mother to be killed.  He then fully participated in the killing of my mother. I saw him when he shot my mother twice in the lower and upper sides of her body.  Thereafter, we were taken by him to a place called Kakata until his departure to other assignments areas.

Later, Menlor knew that we were children of the lady killed at the bridge. My twin brothers were given to some relatives of his as their own.  But I closely monitored their dwelling areas based on conversations I overheard about the relatives, and kept a close watch.

Then, at the age of 14, the rebel leader asked me one day go along with him to some unknown area.  I went along.  Upon our arrival and considering what he did to my mother, I became afraid.  But within a second, he threw me down, removed all my clothes and forced me into sex. In short, he raped me.

With such experiences, I decided to escape, which I did.  Then, with the coming of the Truth and Reconciliation Comission of Liberia, I was opportune to have shared my experiences. Menlor was called and questioned.  He admitted to his crime, and asked to make my two brothers available for the sake of reconciliation. However, just a few months after he met them,one brother was killed.  Today, only the two of us are living, our mother killed, and our father’s whereabouts unknown.

About Us

Posted by Agnes on May 21, 2009
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Straight from the Heart Straight (SFTH) is a Human Resource Development project designed to reach out to the victims, survivors and perpetrators in Liberia and communities through dialogue, leadership empowerment, palava management schemes. This project is intended to enhance human dignity, through Rehabilitation, Reintegration, and Reconciliation. Our target community in Liberia is the War Affected females and their families. As part of its activities, SFTH promotes reconciliation by creating a forum for community dwellers that were once divided during conflict through negotiation and dialogue considering their experiences in the Liberian conflict and by protecting human dignity of victims and perpetrators who willingly tell us their experiences. These processes reflect the themes that underpin the reconciliatory approach, which includes the acknowledgment of past wrongdoings and a Program package of forgiveness and innovative reparation process. War crimes, abuses and atrocities committed before and during the Liberia Civil wars created indelible scars on human beings and their communities, SFTH operations have proven to be successful. In our experience and practice, many Liberians who have been traumatized by the civil crisis have seen Reconciliation as the only way forward for a new and better Liberia . Thus SFTH focus is on vulnerable war affected females removing and transforming their lives from dysfunctional to a renaissance of civil and moral decency and dignity.