We wanted to share this story from one of our resources, Search for Common Ground, in the quest for peace in our world:
As a child, Gwendolyn Myers begged her father to take her to the airport. Not being wealthy, she’d never seen an airplane. But she’d heard about them. She had to see these things for herself, machines that could magically hold themselves up in the air. Back then, she couldn’t have imagined herself today, flying around the world, meeting her president, speaking to the UN.
“My whole story started off as a 13-year-old little girl with Search for Common Ground,” explains Gwen. “That’s where I really give meaning to everything happening now in my life.”
“This is a child who was born during the heat of the Liberian civil crisis,” Gwen shares about herself. “Her mother could not even afford a blanket to wrap her in as a baby. The midwife had to assist my mom with one of her spare dresses, so my mom could wrap me in it. Can you imagine?”
Gwen joined Golden Kids News at just 13 years old. When Gwen was 13, our radio show caught her ear. “Whenever it’s coming on, I always want to go there to listen,” Gwen divulges. “Sometimes I would abandon all my house chores and just listen to Golden Kids News.” The show empowered youth to interview their peers on issues affecting them and report back in a way that appealed to other kids. At the time, 83% of Liberians listened to Search’s radio programs.
“I asked my Dad, ‘How do people get on this program? … Is it for special children, like rich people children?’ My Dad looked at me and said, ‘Oh no, Gwen. Probably we just need to find a way to ask.'” Her father brought her to the studio. After weeks of practicing in the mirror, Gwen made the cut. She says working on the show “helped me a lot in terms of being able to clearly articulate issues and with confidence. It encouraged me to keep pushing on … being the voice of the voiceless. “It helped a whole lot in making me who I am today.”
Gwen was an anchor on Golden Kids News for three years and even helped out in college. After she graduated, another radio show recruited her because they’d heard her on Search’s show. Gwen was amazed. “I’m very sure they wouldn’t have called me if I’d not had the skills as a former Searcher.”
Gwen now runs her own non-profit, Messengers for Peace, which engages over a thousand young people in volunteerism and peacebuilding across Liberia. Last fall Gwen was chosen to give a statement to the UN Peacebuilding Commission advocating the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security.
Long-term commitments — and long-term support from partners– are crucial to the kind of transformation Gwen experienced in her life. “That’s what’s a little bit frustrating for me,” Gwen adds, “because I went back to Search recently and asked if there were any programs for young people like what we had, and they told me, ‘Oh, we had to close the program.’ We need all these platforms for young people to constantly be engaged,” Gwen implores.
Listen to Gwen tell her own story in this short video.