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Monrovia, January 19, 2010 : Straight From the Heart Group, a Liberian owned Non Governmental Organization on Thursday,  January 14, 2010 screened for the first time in Liberia, the movie Who Does She Think She Is? at its headquarters on the S.K.D. Boulevard, in Congo Town, Monrovia.

Who Does She Think She Is? is a Mystic Artist Production, directed and produced by a U.S. based filmmaker, Pamela Tanner Boll. The movie portrays the lives of five women who use arts to be self reliant and maximize their potentials through creativity.

“The movie shows women all over the word that despite the odds, they can use drawing and painting to stand up and be equal with men in homes,” said one of the young women who watched it.

According to Straight From The Heart’s Executive Director, Agnes Umunna, the movie is expected to be screened all over the country once there is sufficient funding from her partners in the United States. She told reporters in Monrovia over the weekend that the project is been sponsored by the U. S. filmmaker and producer Pamela Tanner Boll and the Wellesley Center for Women.

Over 30 Liberian women between the ages of 17 to 35 watched the movie in the Straight From The Heart’s conference room, with smiles on the faces while they munched on snacks. At the end of the movie, the women broke up into three small groups to discuss and give their reactions about the movie.

During the group discussion, some of the women said that they are presently experiencing some of the difficulties that the women in the movie underwent. In their words: “We feel sorry for the women and also feel sorry for ourselves, but for them at least they had people to support them to take up those art works.”

Oretha Johnson, 32 said she hoped Straight From the Heart will not only show them the movie but will be able to help them start “some thing on their own.”  She added that “if we can be empowered to get training in various skills like the women in the movie, I think we will be able to do more than what they did or have done.”

Korto Freeman, 34, a young woman with three children, whose father died during the Liberian civil war said, “I think this movie should be taken to the counties where women are only considered to be always in the back of the house and to take care of the children. No! Women, like you see in this movie are people who too can make their own and not only wait for the man to come from work and bring food money. Its time that we get up and fight for our children.”

Straight From The Heart’s Program Officer, Morris Dunoh encouraged the women at the end of the movie to engage other women in their communities, and spread the word about Who Does She Think She Is?

“Tell your friends, your sisters, and other relatives, that those days where men sit say women belong to the kitchen are over, those days where women stay home to only take care of the children and cook for the men are over! You must rise up now and start to do some thing for your selves, so that your men, or husbands will be very proud of you,” Mr. Dunoh said.

The women praised Straight From The Heart and Pamela Tanner Boll for her courage to produce the movie. They commended the team for thinking about the women of Liberia and finding a means through which they too can learn from the experiences of other women around the world to “maximize their potential to the fullest and be self reliant”.

Straight From The Heart was created in 2005 as an hour long radio program to aired the true life stories of victims, survivors and perpetrators of Liberia’s 14 years bloody civil war that left over half of the country’s populations destitute, maimed and vulnerable, while others got killed during gun battles in and around the country. The brains behind the creation of the radio talk show, Mr. Joseph Roberts Mensah (Kojo), Chief of the United Nations Mission in Liberia Radio (UNMIL Radio), did not stop at creating the radio program, but encouraged the presenter of the show, Agnes Umunna to set up a trauma healing and reconciliation center where victims and perpetrators can come together and discussed their past and hence forge a common ground. Many of these impoverished and traumatized Liberians now live in and around the country’s capital, Monrovia where they survive on less than a dollar a day.

SFTH provides medical referrals and psychosocial support services to traumatized Liberians, especially women and former child soldiers in Liberia. Since the centers were created in 2006, it has helped both victims and perpetrators get psychosocial support services. The Centers were located on the Old Road Community in Monrovia, and another at the General Services Agency compound, which is now referred to as ‘Baghdad’ in Monrovia. The centers are now not totally active as a result of lack of funding to keep the program running. SFTH is however appealing to its international partners and donors to provide funding or support in any form to keep the program running in Liberia. SFTH also intends to take the program to other war torn countries such as Sudan, Congo and recently Kenya which suffered post-elections violence.

Signed

Rhoda Davies –Communications Assistant SFTH Liberia ( 00231 6 827308)

Agnes Umunna, executive director and founder, talks to the press

Agnes Umunna, executive director and founder, talks to the press

Monrovia , January 9, 2008: Straight From the Heart, a local psycho-social support group have said that it is going to embark on additional programs to empower vulnerable Liberian women.

Speaking over the weekend at its second general meeting with more than 150 vulnerable and war affected women and girls at its head office in Sinkor, SFTH Executive Director Agnes Umunna told journalist that her organization is presently partnering with a local organization MEASUAGOON Inc. to embark on a pilot project to provide agricultural training and vocational skills for 150 vulnerable women and girls from four counties.

The project is being sponsored by the International Trade Center ITC with headquarters in Geneva , Switzerland .

According to Mrs. Agnes Umunna, the pilot project is bringing together vulnerable women and girls from Lofa, Bong, Nimba, and Montserrado Counties . She revealed that the project will be implemented at the project site in Peleleh Town along the Gbarnga, Voinjama highway.

“We want to help you so that you can stand on your own, and no man will bluff you again” Madam Umunna said.

She noted that SFTH is committed towards empowering vulnerable young Liberian women and girls who were affected by the civil war and do not have any skills but rely on their bodies as a form of survival for themselves and their siblings.

Madam Agnes Umunna also announced that her organization and Saving Mothers Research Team-SMRT are negotiating to launch a midwifery training program for twenty Liberian women in Monrovia .

Cross section of women attending the program

Cross section of women attending the program

“I am also negotiating with this group to see how they can help with midwifery training for the first twenty of you”

Meanwhile, MEASUAGOON Program Manager, Bantie Brownell Fortune said that the women will not only received vocational skills but will be given formal training to learn how to read and write while at the Peleleh Camp.

She noted that the project aims to provide the women and young girls with marketable skills; so that when they leave the camp they will be able to survive on their own and not rely on unhealthy practices.

She added that both Straight from the Heart and MEASUAGOON are committed to empowering the women to be self sufficient.

Straight From the Heart was founded in March 2005 to provide psycho-social support services to war affected persons through trauma healing and counseling. It was collaborated with a number of local and International Non-governmental institutions, including the launch of the TRC’s formal statement taking process.