A child's right to freedom of religion is expressed in Liberia

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In the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child - a landmark international agreement on the basic human rights of all children - UNICEF is featuring a series of stories about progress made and challenges that remain. Here is one of those stories.

MONROVIA, Liberia, 29 December 2009 - When Emmanuel Mulbah, 18, moved in with his uncle several years ago, they became very close. Emmanuel worked in his uncle's shop, and would run it whenever his uncle was away.

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Recently, however, their relationship has been strained by Emmanuel's decision to join the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Liberia. Emmanuel's uncle says his nephew should stay a Lutheran - the religion in which he was raised - and has ordered him not to attend the Adventist services.

"My uncle says 'our forefathers, our parents have been in that church; they grew up in that church; they died in that church' and he says we should also imitate them," Emmanuel says. "I want my uncle to understand that everyone has the right to freedom of religion."

Monrovia radio workshop

In August, Emmanuel was one of the participants in a week-long radio production workshop for seven young people from Liberia. UNICEF Radio - in partnership with UNICEF's 'Back on Track' programme on Education in Emergencies and Post-Crisis Transition, the UNICEF Liberia programme and Talking Drum Studios - conducted the workshop with three boys and four girls chosen from around the country.

The young people learned how to record, edit, write and produce a radio story of their own.

Emmanuel's story took him to a Lutheran Church and a Seventh Day Adventist Church in Monrovia to discuss the two Christian churches' different beliefs about the Sabbath day.

After meeting with the Lutheran pastor, Emmanuel said he felt liberated by the pastor's words: "Hold strong to your faith, and it's not so much the day that matters, but what you do on that day."

Now, despite his uncle's hesitations, Emmanuel is thinking about becoming a pastor himself in the Adventist Church.

Youth perspectives

UNICEF's Liberia programme will broadcast all of the youth's stories to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

The CRC grants children the right to freedom of thought and religion, among other rights.

This was the second in a series of workshops conducted by UNICEF Radio and the Back on Track programme. The aim is to bring young people's perspectives into the debate around education in emergencies and post-crisis situations - and to commemorate the CRC.

Meanwhile, UNICEF's Liberia programme continues to work with community radio stations throughout the country to involve the new youth journalists in their programmes, empowering young people by giving them the chance to broadcast their voices throughout Liberia.