Alternative Youth Radio in Liberia breaks ground for US $200k journalism and vocational education

Alternative Youth Radio (AYR), the only community youth radio station in Liberia has broken ground to construct a multimedia school of journalism and vocational education valued at over US$200,000.

The event, which coincided with the station’s 8th anniversary, brought together a diverse range of citizens and international guests, including the Mission Director of USAID-Liberia, Jim Wright, who served as a guest speaker and officially broke ground for the school. J

James Kwabo, Jr., the founder and general manager of Alternative Youth Radio, said that, once established, the school will address some of Liberia’s human capacity needs by initiating an Advance Diploma in Basic Journalism and Communications and providing hands-on technical and vocational training for broadcast technicians.

In the long term, Kwabo narrates, the institution plans to initiate an associate degree program, followed by a full-fledged bachelor’s degree.

Speaking further about the project, Kwabo explained that the structure is 450 feet square and includes a library, conference room, eight administrative offices, and 12 bathrooms.

On our own, we have already prepared over 5,000 concrete bricks, purchased over 400 pieces of mixed steel rods, four dump truck loads of river sand, three dump truck loads of crushed rocks, and over 100 pieces of timber, among other assorted building materials,” he said.

He also expressed excitement that the local community, as well as some former and current leaders, generously donated 100 bags of cement, L$50,000, and U$315 as initial contributions to the proposed project.

He said stated that with massive community support, the construction, which began immediately following the groundbreaking on Saturday, June 22, 2024, is expected to be completed in a maximum of two years.

For his part, USAID-Liberia Mission Director Jim Wright, who delivered the keynote address and officially broke ground for the project praised the station’s incredible landmark achievements in just eight years, describing the institution as a shining example of community radios striving for a sustainable future.

According to Wright, the successes of AYR over the past eight years, coupled with the innovations, determinations, and commitment of the station, will not only transform Zorzor and Lofa, but will also set a standard for others to follow.

Mission Director Wright expressed excitement about the Founder of Alternative Youth Radio, James Papy Kwabo, Jr., a 2019 Mandela Washington Fellow of the U.S. Department of State for living up to the expectations of the prestigious U.S. exchange program following his return from the United States.

Wright believes that Kwabo has clearly demonstrated the program’s true essence by impacting his community through innovative programs and projects.

Also remarking at the occasion, Internews-Liberia Deputy Chief-of-Party, Mr. Jefferson Massah, thanked the management of AYR for their farsightedness in immensely contributing towards the growth and development of the Liberian media and especially for being an outstanding partner radio station in the ongoing USAID-funded media activity project.

Massah narrated that AYR has continued to set standards in the community radio sector, especially among the 30 partner radios that Internews-Liberia is working with for the implementation of the ongoing media activity project, noting that AYR only needs a little push, and they can go beyond expectations as demonstrated by their innovations and partnerships.

On behalf of the local administration, the Commissioner of Zorzor Administrative Commissioner, Hon. Paul R. Kalama, expressed his excitement about the Alternative Youth Radio and stated that what the institution has achieved in just eight years is mind-blowing.

He assured the station’s management of the local leadership’s commitment to ensuring that the proposed project is fully implemented.

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