Liberian Women Humanitarian Network (LWHN) Conducts Community Outreach

The Liberian Women Humanitarian Network (LWHN) recently conducted a one day sensitization outreach in, Wacco Community, Grand Cape Mount County on Monkey Pox. The sensitization came in the wake of 2 confirmed cases of the virus/disease in the area.

The exercise was geared towards educating members of the community on the virus, its mode of transmission, ways to avoid the virus, and how to treat in the instances of infection.

Whilst the discussion was centered on Monkeypox, the team used the opportunity to also talk about infectious diseases spreading, control and how to react when there exists no medical personnel immediately. The outreach awareness engage both men, women and youths. Like most rural communities, the issues of limited access to safe drinking water, health facilities and timely treatment are among the numerous challenges faced by dwellers. article photo

 

To date, there are 6 confirmed cases of the virus in 3 counties in Liberia and 28 cases in Nigeria.

Monkeypox is a viral disease that produces pox lesions on the skin and is closely related to smallpox but is not nearly as deadly as smallpox was. Monkeypox virus causes monkeypox and the majority of cases are transmitted from animals (rodents) to humans by direct contact. Person-to-person transfer, probably by droplets, can occur infrequently. Risk factors for monkeypox include close association with African animals (usually rodents) that have the disease or caring for a patient who has monkeypox.

During the first few days, symptoms are nonspecific and include fevernausea, and malaise. After about four to seven days, lesions (pustules, papules) develop on the face and trunk that ulcerate, crust over, and begin to clear up after about 14-21 days, and lymph nodes enlarge. There may be some scarring.[i]

The Liberia Women Humanitarian Network was formed in 2016 out of a need to stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti after Hurricane Matthew which left several hundred people dead in its wake.

Having recently recovered from a national health emergency crisis, women from diverse backgrounds who mostly lead national charities saw this as a way to lend support to the people of Haiti, specifically women and children who are often the hardest hit during such crisis.article v

The network also later did a fundraising to also support the victims of the mudslide disaster in Sierra Leone and raised $2000 which was channeled thru the women led organization, 50/50 to support victims with immediate relief items to help them recuperate.

Liberia suffered from Ebola in 2014 which left more than 5000 people dead. The disease e spread rapidly at the time due to lack of knowledge on care, prevention and awareness. With the recent announcement of a new outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo, the outreach was also a good opportunity to remind people about the importance of not just community hygiene but also to avoid eating “bush meat” and playing with monkeys.

Ms. Facia Harris who runs the Paramount Young Women Initiative said the reason she is interested and supports such networks is because it provides an opportunity to show that first response starts with nationals. She noted “We try to respond to different needs in our communities and networks, but coming together as women with different interest and backgrounds of work is an expression of unity and togetherness in meeting the needs of others in a more timely and critical manner.  The skills, resources and experience once brought together change the narratives around humanitarian work and promotes localization and ownership.

I work with girls and women through educational and empowerment programs.” Facia Harris, the Executive director of Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI) Mrs. Naomi Tulay-Solanke also stressed the need for more community engagement by local actors especially women led organizations at the national levels. She believe that having more women at the frontline of humanitarian response will help change the male dominated and gender biased within the humanitarian system. Humanitarian response will become more local, effective and gender trans-formative.

The Liberia Women Humanitarian Network was formed in 2016 out of a need to stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti after Hurricane Matthew which left several hundred people dead in its wake. A reflection of the Ebola crisis in Liberia and its adverse effects on women and children primarily motivated women leaders from diverse backgrounds to lend support to the  people of Haiti facilitated the establishment of the Liberia Women Humanitarian Network . The network successfully supported victims of the mudslide disaster in Sierra Leone and raised approximately $ 2,000 USD through local fundraising. The fund was channeled through a selected local women-led organization to support victims with immediate relief items and help them recuperate. The network intends to do more awareness in the near future, with focus on the Lassa Fever outbreak which has now claimed the lives of more than 12 persons in 4 counties with 24 confirmed cases over the last 5 months.DSC_0821

Maimah Pellam, Executive Director of Serene Mobile Clinic, a charity that provides mobile healthcare support to families in rural communities in Liberia said “Being a part of the LWHN is an opportunity to work with other women groups, who have similar passion in serving or giving back to our country . I also saw it  necessary to join the team in reaching out to Grand Cape Mount County upon receiving the news about the monkey pox outbreak. It was important because we as a network vow to respond to any situation that has a potential to cause problems especially health and social welfare amongst people of Liberia:

What’s next?

Brenda Moore of the Kids’ Educational Engagement Project (KEEP) noted that the network intends to do more awareness in the near future, with focus on the Lassa Fever outbreak which has now claimed the lives of more than 12 persons in 4 counties with 24 confirmed cases over the last 5 months. She said it top of their priroty list for the next few weeks as awareness is key to prevention and control.

[i] https://www.medicinenet.com/monkeypox/article.htm

 

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A Look At Liberia’s New Maternity Law

I had a conversation recently with someone who is expecting her first child and she was curious as to what the law allowed as it related to pregnancy leave.

This had me thinking, that many people, both employees and employers may not be aware of the changes in the law regarding maternity leave and this article is to provide an overview.

 In March 2016, the long-awaited updated Labor law, named Decent Work Act (DWA) came into full effect. There has been a lot of misunderstanding regarding some of the new edicts within the DWA with many employers complaining that the new law is overly generous to employees, leaving employers with very little wiggling room. The DWA was created to better protect employees, with laws that now makes it much more difficult to terminate an employee on frivolous claims and completely removes the allowance of the old law where employers could terminate an employee “without cause”. But, that is another discussion for another day.

The DWA allows 14 weeks of maternity leave to an employee who has proven with a medical certificate that she is pregnant. This certificate should also indicate her estimated due date (20.2a) along with when she is expected to commence her maternity leave and when she expects to return.

Now, things may change depending on unforeseen complications and recovery related to the delivery so, there will need to be a bit of flexibility with the employer in terms of the exact dates on the certificate. Key in my opinion would be for the total time away from work for maternity not to exceed the allowable number of weeks (14 weeks) for the maternity leave.

The law also clearly states “An employed woman is entitled to receive from her employer the remuneration she would otherwise receive for her ordinary hours of work during any period of maternity leave.”, meaning, the employee should receive full salary and benefits while she is away from work on maternity leave. Some employers have the tendency to withhold certain benefits from employees who take maternity (and annual leave) claiming that the benefits are tied to coming to work. That is wrong and illegal.53252480

 Extension Of Maternity Leave 

If for some reason there is a complication which may require the new mother a need to extend the maternity leave, the DWA allows another one month of time away from work, however, this extra time will be unpaid time away from work. Perhaps in situations like these, if the employee has accrued annual leave, she could utilize those days to cover the extra days from work.

The DWA also allows for breastfeeding breaks of one hour each work day for the employee upon resumption of official duties. This nursing break will be available to the staff for up to six months after the birth of the child and is in addition to the one-hour lunch break legally mandated for each employee working an eight-hour work shift. The employee and her supervisor can arrange when this nursing break can be taken.

From past experience, an employee I knew worked it out with her supervisor to leave work at 3 daily instead of 5 by combining both her lunch break and nursing break. This meant more time at home to nurse and bond with her child.

All of this is regardless of how long the employee has been in the employ of the organization with no restrictions on how many children you already have, as is mandated in some countries.

Lets Compare:

Liberia’s 14 weeks of paid maternity leave is quite generous, compared to countries like the United States of America which offers 12 weeks of leave, but UNPAID. Yep, you can take up to 12 week away from work under the US Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) during a one year period, but it will have to be unpaid. The United Kingdom offers up to 26 weeks of paid leave to its citizens[1]. Neighboring African counties like Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, all offer 14 weeks of paid maternity leave, with Ghana offering 12 weeks and only 50% of pay during this period.[2]  Other African countries are not so generous and offer only 30 days of paid leave (67% of pay) like Tunisia, Mozambique 60 days. 50738844

Things that are still unclear under the DWA: can an employee still take full maternity leave if the child was a still born or there is a miscarriage.

For an underdeveloped country, my opinion is that this updated law is a good step in the right direction and generous.

What You As an Employee Need To Do:

  • Notify your employers as soon as it is reasonably possible about your pregnancy to provide them time to plan for coverage while you are away from work. Provide the medical certificate or notice as required by law.
  • If there are complications after your delivery that may require extra time away from work, notify your supervisor about this officially in writing, requesting for the extra time from work. Keeping in mind the extension of the maternity leave may mean unpaid time away from work if you do not have other leave days available for you to utilize.
  • Notify your employer about the dates you may need to go in for monthly prenatal checkup to provide coverage where needed. Communication is key and important.
  • Before taking your leave, you may want to come to an agreement with your employer regarding what amount of contact or support you would be willing to give while away from work. This will clearly identify what you are willing to do and not to do. It will also provide clear understanding on expectations.

 What You As An Employer Cannot do:

  • You cannot terminate the employment of an employee because she is pregnant and will need 3.5 months away from work.
  • You cannot demote her upon her return to work or deny her promotion opportunities due to her pregnancy.
  • You cannot compel her to come in while away on her maternity leave, unless she willingly agrees to come in to help cover some work that may be crucial.

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    source: timesofIndia

Planning Ahead:

  • Plan a coverage – once you have been officially notified by the employee regarding her pregnancy, the smart thing to do would be to start planning coverage while she is away from work.
  • Identify someone in the same unit or department who would be best suited to cover for the employee while she is away on maternity leave. This can be another employee, a temporary contractor, an intern or a vacation student, depending on the type of skills and complication of the job.
  • Have the pregnant employee prepare detailed turning over note for whoever will be covering for her during her absence.
  • Prepare a standard operating procedure (SOP) that someone covering will be able to follow step by step to guide him or her perform the job duties. Provide training to the staff that will be covering, if needed.

This is not the maximum that a company can offer, rather the minimum and as such, companies can decide to go above the minimum requirements noted by the law. It is important to note that companies will do well to foster a good working culture and environment for employees to ensure retention and a cordial working relationship with its employees and management. No company wants to have a situation where its employees are unhappy and don’t feel that work life balance is unfairly tilted in favor of the employer and that their legal rights are being violated and disregarded. So it is important that management makes every effort to ensure it adheres to the law and treat its employees with respect.

Remember, your employees are your most valuable assets.

About the Author: Brenda Brewer Moore is a Human Resource Practitioner with over 15 years’ working experience in the field of Human Resource & Office Management with an Executive Masters in Business Administration and internationally certified as a Senior Professional Human Resource Professional (SPHR) from both the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Human Resource Certificate Institute (HRCI). She lives and work in Liberia. Do you have feedback on the article, great! Please leave a reply here or send an email, I would love to hear from you. moore.brenda@gmail.com

[2] http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_008009/lang–en/index.htm

Challenging A Male Dominated Space In Vanuatu: The Parliament

Every year for the last 60 years, women from all around the world gather at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to discuss issues affecting women and develop strategies surrounding setting standards and formulating international conventions to change discriminatory legislation and foster global awareness of women’s issues.

For 2 weeks women from governments around the world, civil society, national organizations, local non-profit organizations, come together to discuss how to shape global policies on gender equality, empowerment of women, etc.

Mary Jack at the 60th CWS- New York
Mary Jack at the 60th CWS- New York

With several consultations leading up to the first ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) slated to be held in Istanbul, Turkey in May, there have been a call for change in the way the current humanitarian system works and responds. One of such calls that has resonated across most of the regions has been more localization of humanitarian response, more support to women organizations and women led organizations.

In 2014 during the height of the Ebola virus outbreak in Liberia, the government of Liberia closed all schools in the country as an effort to help curb the spread of the Ebola virus. As a way to helping ensure that children were kept academically engaged, I led a team of volunteers who went to several communities in Liberia providing few educational packets to children so that they wouldn’t miss out on their lessons while schools were closed. This initiative led to over 7,000 children being reached in 7 months. I was invited to talk about the work we did during this Ebola crisis period and what we have been doing since.

It was at this 60th CSW that I had the privilege of meeting Mary Jack Kaviamu, who along with other women from Liberia, the Philippines and Australia came to share their testimonies of the roles we played. We were provided an opportunity to share our stories and experiences as first responders and women leading local humanitarian action in our respective countries. Particularly during a time of crisis or disaster.

And this is where I had the pleasure of meeting an amazing woman name Mary Jack. I learned quick quickly that beneath her quiet demeanor, soft spoken voice is a strong, resolved and committed woman who is passionate and committed to improving the status of women in her home in Vanuata.

Over the next 6 days I got the chance to learn about her efforts (along with other women) in responding to the Cyclone Pam and what she has been doing before that and after that disaster when their homes and lives were affected. Mary delivered a powerfully, moving and emotional testimony at a side event organized by ActionAid and OCHA where we participated in the event ‘Women as First Responders’.

Mary spoke about the level of violence against women in her country. Not just physical but emotional.

Mary decided to break her country’s custom and run for a seat in the parliament. Currently the parliament has 52 seats, all occupied by men.

It has been hard to see how a woman can break into that male dominated space. Men in her country see politics and parliament as a space reserved solely for men and the cultural norms is one that does not allow women to speak out. If a woman attempts to engage them in that space, her level of education is called into question, her wealth and many are told “this is not your place”.

Mary- Determined. Passionate. Determined.
Mary- Determined. Passionate. Determined.

When Mary ran for Parliament, she received many threats and experienced emotional violence and although she didn’t win that election (357 women casted their votes and she got no male votes), she learned a lot from that journey. Mary though, is not discouraged and she intends to re-strategize and this time around intends to try at the local level. Elections though are expensive and she hope to get more support this time around to enable her go to more communities.

Currently she is working with several women groups, mobilizing women to come together to speak for themselves and brining to the forefront to government the many issues they are facing.

After Cyclone Pam, Mary realized that her home got damaged and that many other women had problems like hers and she volunteered to manage the space for women to come and share their stories. She organized training on human rights and women rights to have deeper understanding on their rights to be empowered to speak for themselves. Women in Vanuatu have less access to education to and girls are unable to complete schools due to resources.

Mary has 3 children, two girls and one boy and tells me that she is proud to be a part of a movement to try to change this culture that compels women to be silent. She hopes that one day women in her country will be able to speak for themselves and break the custom and culture of silencing women.

She has been involved in activism for 10 year and is not discouraged. She says that the tradition and culture has been a big barrier to women leadership. Women are not allowed to speak for themselves and she wants to take the opportunity to play a role that motivates women. To break this culture and custom.

It is always amazing, motivating and inspirational when you hear the testimonies of other women and it reinforces to me how the role women play in development work, humanitarian responses and crisis period.

The role women play, the narrative and image usually—so it’s refreshing to hear real stories of women taking leadership roles in unique situations.

You can read more about Mary’s story on a blog she wrote earlier here https://vanuatudaily.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/standing-up-to-be-counted-women-of-vanuatu-demanding-their-place-in-the-political-life-of-the-nation/comment-page-1/

Meet Vivacious Victoria

Recently I met a smart, determined child name Victoria Maizee. Victoria is 14 years old and was born blind.

A gentleman who works with an organization called Destined Kids, contacted me several weeks ago asking for help for a child “his heart reaches out to”. After few calls and persistence, I stopped to meet the family after work and immediately I felt a tug in my heart as well.

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Young Victoria

Victoria is in the 8th grade and attends a community school in the NeZoe community in Monrovia.

Her story (and that of many others in her condition is heartwarming).  At 7 am daily, Victoria’s 8 year old younger brother Noah -who is not blind-walks her to school daily (he is not currently enrolled in school) and returns home to help his parents around the house. Victoria has to rely on a friend in her class to copy the notes which she then takes home and have someone from the neighborhood read to her while she transcribes to Braille on poster sheets.

This is a daily routine. DSC_0250

Despite these challenges, she still excels in her lessons and this past 1st period, she came up with an average of 90%. Remarkable!

Victoria attended the Liberia School of the Blind where she learned how to write Braille and other much needed basic life skills.

I met her mother Deddeh- who also happens to be blind- who told me that she was not born blind, but contracted Measles at 16 years old and it affected her eyesight. She went to several hospitals during the war years, seeking treatment, but it did not help, she still lost her sight. She said, this led her to stop going to school and she stopped in the 5th grade.

Deddeh, Victoria's mother
Deddeh, Victoria’s mother

She told me that not long after, she was fortunate to be part of the group of women trained in Cote D’Ivoire where she was taught how to bake, a skill that she and her family now relies on to feed and sustain them. She bakes daily and sells short bread, corn bread etc., which she sells right in front of her home. I have promised to one day watch her do this!

Her husband she told me was also not born blind, but like her, got ill and lost his eyesight. He is currently unemployed and ill. He was not at home at the time I went there.

I asked Victoria how is she able to cope with school, being the only blind child there. She told me that it is difficult but she is determined to finish high school at the minimum.

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The school is very supportive and also has a teacher who is blind who recently graduated from Cuttington University. When I spoke to him, he indicated that being a blind person, “you have to be double smart! No play play”. He said he is very supportive of little Victoria and always encourages her to stay determined and true to herself. That she could be the first one in her family to graduate from high school if she continues on this path.

Victoria was quite shy in telling me her learning needs and after a bit of prompting, shyly said that a small typewriter would go a long way in helping her type up her notes daily

Victoria is currently being supported academically by KEEP with tuition support, educational supplies and other needed items that supports her remaining in school.

If you would like to help support her education in any way, please contact me inbox

 

8 Year Old Noah, Victoria's brother
8 Year Old Noah, Victoria’s brother
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Victoria at school

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KEEP Provides Back-To-School bags

What better way to celebrate Valentine ’s Day than to show love to others?

This past weekend KEEP continued its efforts to provide some children with “Back-To-School” bags. Like before, each bag contained notebooks, pencils, sharpeners, erasers, crayons. We also got a donation of Geometry sets, so those went in the bags of kids in grades 4-6.

Also, this time around, we decided to reach out to orphanages and families that have been directly affected by Ebola-either by losing their parents or guardians.

Our first stop was at the Love A Child orphanage on the Robertsfield Highway.  Mother Rebecca Wreh runs the Orphanage (lady in black and red t-shirt)

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32 children at this orphanage received bags with supplies. we managed to get a few to pose with us.

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We later went to the Eluwo Orphanage in Ceasar’s village (Rehab road).

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The kids there were caught unaware by the visit and were super excited that we took book bags for them. The home has a backyard garden where they grow cabbages, corn, pepper, etc.

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Mother Eleanor Wuo was so appreciative that she insisted giving us cabbage from the home’s backyard garden. I was so touched!

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We also made a visit to several homes in the Banjor Community where many children in that area lost their parents to Ebola.

Thanks to all who have and continue to support our various efforts.

Previously on January 31 we give out over 150 bags to children in the Baptist Seminary Blocks B&C communities.

 

Reaching Out to Jimmy Fahnbulleh

A few weeks ago, I read a story on Front Page Africa that touched my heart. The story was about a boy in the Island Clinic Community who, due to the closure of schools in the country, had started teaching other kids in his immediate surroundings.

The boy’s name is James Fahnbulleh (aka Jimmy) and he is in the 8th grade.

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A few of us are currently doing a project called Kids Engagement Project. The intent of the project is to provide educational materials (pencils, sharpeners, erasers, notebooks, etc.) and math and English worksheets to children to keep their minds engaged academically during the Ebola crisis and the closure of schools in the country. The worksheets are simple and easy to do and understand and are all aligned with the Ministry of Education’s curricular for each grade level. We target kids in primary school (Pre-school to 6th grades). We also engage the parents or caregivers in the home to make time to teach the kids during this crisis period. We do a biweekly check in with the parents and the children to see if they are utilizing the kits. The idea also is for parents or caregivers in the home to make time to tutor the kids and not to bring in “study class teachers’ to teach the kids during this crisis period.

 On October 30, Kids Engagement took a few educational packets to Jimmy and the children in his immediate neighborhood. His mother wasn’t home, but we met his aunt.

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We also met Jimmy and most of his students.
They were excited about the kits but also requested that we assist with blackboard chalk to help them continue their studies.

It is rather remarkable how we Liberians adapt and “make do”.
Thank you Jimmy for thinking about others and wanting to learn.

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also published on Front Page Africa

Give People Their Flowers While They Live-An Appreciation

There is a running saying in Liberia that Liberians are all mostly talkers. That we like to talk a lot, but tend not to put our money where our mouths are. Since we commenced the Kids Engagement Project, I can happily refute that old adage as 95% of the support we have received thus far has been from all Liberians.

I like to tell people that “even Jesus, the Son of God, wanted thanks when He healed the Lepers, what more about mere man?”

There is also a saying we have in Liberia that “Give a man his flowers while he is alive” and so I would like to highlight a few of the material donations and support we have received over the past weeks starting with the most recent going backwards.

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When the project started, I emailed several friends and family. Some responded, some didn’t. Some replied with “thank you Brenda, nice project, keep it up”, others responded “I will get back to you”.

Mr. George E. Taylor was one of those who simply replied “ I will get back to you”. Several weeks passed and I didn’t hear from him. Last weekend I got a surprised text from him. He told me he had sent a few books and supplies for the project and to collect from a friend. I was happy. To have gone thru the headache of sending exercise books, pencils, crayons, erase, reading and coloring books, etc. from all the way from the United States, I was appreciative and thankful.

But, that wasn’t all.

He also sent me a money transfer number with cash donation for the kids’ project. The amount blew me away. Let’s just say that George, my old college mate from the University of Liberia days, is the highest donator to our project thus far. He didn’t want me to do this but I convinced him that I would in order to motivate others to help and to prove that indeed, Liberians do support each other and that Together, We Can. Thank you so much George.

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Lawrence Morris taught me when I was in grade school in Gbarnga, Bong County, on Cuttington Campus during the civil war. I think it was 5th or 6th grade. cant remember now. But I remember saying to myself that when I grew up, I wanted to be smart just like him. I wrote my “Prof” and he has come through. Not only did he bring a lot of these supplies from the USA in his luggage, but also met with several organizations in the USA about the project and got more items coming via ship in the next few weeks/months. Lawrence aka prof. thank you so much, the book bags are very handy and timed right now as we use them to carry the packets around the communities.

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I also want to say a special thank you to Madam Korto Williams and ActionAid Liberia and the Leader Fund for donating a lot of reading books and worksheets to the project from the very beginning. I remember she told me “Come by, I have few books to give to you”. Got at her office and was beyond surprise and happy. The readers and story books are really helpful as they help the kids reading skills, improve their reading comprehension and enhance their vocabulary.  

Donations from ActionAid Liberia
Donations from ActionAid Liberia

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Madam Williams presenting
Madam Williams presenting

 

Jackie Parsons was also one of those I wrote who said ” oh I got some things at home, I will give to you, Brenda”. She continues to be a great support and I really appreciate her efforts. She has driven all the way to our home on the highway twice now to bring supplies and knick-knacks for the project.

Thanks Jackie
Thanks Jackie

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I also want to say many thanks to Mr. Anthony Wilson. All I can say about Anthony’s donation is that, it was of such magnitude that it is only in the last 3 weeks I have had to purchase exercise books. He also got us about 20 dozen pencils. Tony, thank you so much.

Kind Courtesy of Anthony Wilson
Kind Courtesy of Anthony Wilson

Then there is Nat B. Walker, my former boss. Whenever I tell him thank you for his supporting to reaching out to more kids, he says, “yes, thank me for helping to give you more work!”. He always comes thru when we are in a snitch with pencils, crayons, cash, notebooks, etc. Nat, thank you so much.

Compliments of Nat Walker
Compliments of Nat Walker

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I would also like to say thank you to Relief Inc. (Phebe Dennis Fortt) and Mr. John T. Richardson and Sis Josephine Salee of Feed the Future for the donation of some books and supplies to the project. They have come in handy for places like Orphanages that have reading rooms/spaces for the kids to read and keep their minds active during this crisis period.  Thank you.

Donations by Relief Inc.
Donations by Relief Inc.

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I met Wadei Powell online. She sent me a message asking how she could help. I give her the list of supplies we needed and also complained about the production. She said “I will see what I can do”. Since she got back, she has become a core member of the project (more on that in another blog later) and has worked a lot from behind the scenes in helping us get copies, talking to her friends for supplies and even digging deep to bring some when we are jammed. Ma Wadei, thank you ya?

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Ambassador Miatta Fahnbulleh (Aunty Miatta), has also blessed the project with supplies. She asked me “what all do you need?” I said “pencils, notebooks, erasers, sharpeners… ” she said “oh, the pencils I got lots of pencils”. We only just exhausted her donation of pencils this week. She also sent some biscuits that I now use as “rewards” for the kids who complete all their activity sheets. Thank you so much Aunty Miatta.

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Then there is my childhood friend who resides in the UK. She and her family saw my numerous posts on facebook and made contact with someone in Liberia to bring these items for us. Thank you So much Attia and Scooby.

Mr. & Mrs. Alpha Collins
Mr. & Mrs. Alpha Collins

I am saying thanks to all of you publicly for your material, cash and moral support. There are many others who have really blessed this project in many ways that I will highlight as we go along. People who commit their time, effort, resources. But, that is a story, for a different blog.

Remain blessed and favored.

 

Ebola Orphans

 Today during the course of distributing educational packets to children in the Red Hill community (just after the St. Paul’s bridge), we came across a group of children that had lost both their parents to the Ebola Virus Disease. I counted about 9 of them. Their ages ranged from about 2 years old to about 15 years old.

They had been under quarantine for 21 days and today was their last day and so they were in a joyous and thankful mood.

Inquisitive eyes
Inquisitive eyes

I saw these children and started crying. I couldn’t imagine what they must be feeling. Their mother’s sister has taken them in and told us that the rest of the family were waiting for the 21 days to end to make a decision on how to how take care of the children.

Our community liaison told us that the community has been very supportive in providing food and supplies weekly to this family and supporting in many ways to ensure they don’t feel ostracized, stigmatized or alone.

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I looked at these children, so happy, gleeful and excited over receiving (among other things) coloring pages and pencils and whatnot and just said a silent prayer of thanks to God for life. For health. For being good to me and my family.

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I cannot imagine what these children must be dealing with. The confusion of not knowing where both their parents are. Of being told to stay in their home all day, not interacting with anyone else. Not playing with the other children. They seem too young to grasp the enormity of all of this.

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I asked their aunt if she wouldn’t mind us taking a few pictures to share with you all and she said she didn’t.

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Speaking with the aunt
Speaking with the aunt

We have been to many communities, and I must say I am very impressed with how organized the red Hill community leadership is in dealing with and responding to the Ebola crisis. The level of support I am told they give to this family and 3 others in similar situation is really amazing and laudable.

If you are able to help them, please let me know and I will forward the contact info of the family and the community liaison.

you can follow our daily activities on the facebook page facebook.com/KidsEngagementProjectLiberia

Fulfilling Rewards

Its indescribably fulfilling when you notice that parents are taking heed to your message. While out distributing and doing follow-up with parents in the community for the Project Kids Engagement, we walked on this father taking the time to tutor his kids at home. He says he drives a taxi cab during the day and doesn’t usually have time every day to tutor his kids, but leave daily “assignments” for them to finish using the worksheets we provided and reviews their work on Sundays.

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The message continues to be: Schools are closed indefinitely in Liberia due to the Ebola Virus Disease crisis. Do not let the time go to waste, make time to tutor your kids so that they are kept engaged academically so that they aren’t too far behind when schools do reopen.

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Really happy that one father at least is heeding our message.

Project Kids Engagement On-The-Go

The response to the project has just been amazing.

Not only are some parents actually making time to tutor their kids, but the kids themselves are excited about learning. We ran into a few parents who sell by the road side whose kids had received educational packets and…see for your self. These pictures, these moments just made all the hours of work worth it. Keep it up family.

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We did a follow-up trip to some of the homes we had initially given packets to and the kids were excited and anxiously displaying their completed assignments/worksheets.

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Sadly some parents didn’t have the time to help the kids with their lessons but promised to do so this week. We will check back to make sure.

We also saw the need to target some markets around the city as there are also many children of school going age that are roaming the market all day idle, which isn’t also safe for them during this Ebola Crisis period. The reception and feedback from the parents was amazing. We held discussions with them on not only keeping their kids safe, but also to keep them engaged academically whilst we await the reopening of schools and started off at the Rally Town market. There are so many pictures and stories from this trip that I will need a separate blog post just to capture most of the fun, but here are a few for now:

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We will be going to another community in the next few days and will update the page as we go along. Please help support the initiative with exercise books, reams of paper, pencils, erasers, crayons, sharpeners, cash, etc.

You can follow the project activities on the facebook page set up here: facebook.com/KidsEngagementProjectLiberia.

If you would like to donate to help keep the initiative alive, please send me an at email moore.brenda@gmail.com or use the GoFundMe site: http://www.gofundme.com/project-kidsengagement

Thank you for the many kind words of encouragement and I would like to say special thanks to those who have contributed towards the project and who continue to invest time and energy into this initiative.
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