EBOLA IN LIBERIA
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) furiously threatened the very existence of Liberians. It crippled our already weakened health structures, policies, and practices. It claimed the lives of thousands of our mothers and children. And it took away our regular, every-day way of life – case in point is the one clear distinction we have as Liberians - hand-contact greetings. Over the past months, the virus curiously stigmatized the nature of our society; our way of life. Nevertheless, we have persevered and we continue to work with community based organizations to help eradicate the virus out of Liberia.
EDUCATION AFTER THE EVD FIGHT
On the last rung of this pyramid of suffering are our young girls and women. Schools were closed in the midst of the health crisis brought on by the EBOLA Virus Disease and their very survival was on the line. As health workers and the international community arrived with major support, local and rural communities were already at the mercy of the virus. Thanks to you our Globalgiving Partners, and other international, regional and national actors, including local and rural health care workers and women and young girls serving as community volunteers, we have turned a page on Ebola in Liberia.
The reduction of Ebola cases in Liberia has been followed by the reopening of schools. This development, while worth celebrating, necessitates the need to continue to push the message of non-complacency about the virus, and fight post-Ebola struggles of ordinary families living in marginalized communities. Schools are now reopening across the country. The economic hardship created by the Ebola Virus further pushed poor families to reconsider education, NOT as a priority for their children - the primary challenges being: the very high cost of living, tuition, transportation, school supplies and uniforms, etc. And this is a fair argument for an underpriveledged mother with three girls to feed and take care off. We say it is unfair to assume nothing can be done about this on the part of civil society and international partners, and, with your support, we continue to take action to help where we can.
1st POST-EBOLA BWT
GPFA conducted its first post-EBOLA ‘Breakfast Walk ‘N Talk’ (BWT) in commemoration of International Women’s Day on March 7th, 2015. BWTers donned special colors for the day as we fired up our very own Stop Rape Campaign in honor of Rape Victims. Under the theme, ‘554 Cases! Enough! Stop It!’ the Foundation brought together human rights and civil society groups, women-led organizations, youth activists, lawyers, leaders in governmental circles, students, community-based organizations, and well-wishers. The participants all agreed that it was past time to end the silence and help transform the culture of rape that has become prevalent in Liberia, especially looking at the 2014 statistics of 554 total number of Rape Cases in the country, with 428 being the total number in Montserrado County alone; Montserrado being where the capital sits – the political capital of Liberia’s National Government. The scarier statistic is that 512 of this total number, signifies Rape Crimes perpetrated against children 0-17 years old (http://allafrica.com/stories/201501231792.html). BWTers came either in their BWT tees or came rocking these colors for the following reasons: Baby Pink & Baby Blue - as a show of support for the countless, helpless little girls and little boys that have been abused; RED - for the real danger in Rape situations which at times ends in death; WHITE - to symbolize the hope we carry in our hearts that one day - AND ONE DAY SOON – we shall be able to say we made history and helped bring pervasive behaviors to the light and put perpetrators to shame! This was the first BWT ever since our last one in July of 2014, due to the overwhelming unsafety of the EVD crisis. It was a success and our young scholars used this occasion to participate in issues affecting them as they prepared to return to the classrooms.
Over the last two months, with support from you our donors, GPFA began footing the education needs of young girls across the country. Ebola is on the run and the need for education, especially for young girls in post-Ebola Liberia has never been more relevant. With the complete breakdown of most infrastructures, GPFA is very cncerned about being able to help get girs back in school and alleviate the additional stress from the shoulders of the families whose lives we will be able to touch. The Foundation continues to offer holistic scholarships ithat cover tuition, uniform, transportation, and other school-related cost for high schoolers and university students.
APPRECIATION All the wonderful progress and issues GPFA continue to champion on behalf of the girls, women and youths in local communities would not be possible without the generous support of our many sympathizers and donors like you all in our Globalgiving network. We want to express our heartfelt appreciation of your humanity that stretches across international borders. We say than you - for standing with us as we stand for girls’ rights to be educated, for community development, for social justice.
On behalf of our girls whom you continue to cater to and educate, girls whom you may never meet in person but still graciously owe their educational stability in a troubled society to you, we say thank you. We would also like to know what you think. Are there other prevalent issues that you would like to see us continue to address in post-Ebola Liberia? As a global civil society, we would welcome any suggestions you may have that could assist and protect, the needs of young girls and women.
GPFA is excited about being able to continue to make learning happen at all levels during even trying times. The Gbowee Peace Foundation has been able to stay true to a mantra of educating wonderful girls and giving them the opportunity of a life time, with support from wonderful donors like you. To date, our international students have all fitted into life on campus at their various schools in the US. Yvonne’s happily making new friends at Cedar Crest College whilst working to acquire her first degree in Social Work; Delight’s getting into the work force at Eastern Mennonite University and Anita’s assimilating into college life at Barnard; Delight and Anita both are our grantees from Ghana. Georgia, who’s enrolled at the Clinton School of Public Service, studying for her master’s - is making strides at the University of Arkansas. With your help, we were able to get these students ready to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities afforded them through these scholarships.
The rest of our AGLI grantees have been out of school due to the outbreak of the deadly EBOLA Virus Disease (EVD) that has killed so many people in Liberia since February 2014 to present. Being innovative, GPFA espoused the idea of getting our students safe, whilst getting them trained to take part in the Foundation’s Ebola Outreach Initiative. With that in mind, a one day EBOLA Outreach Awareness training with 9 of our Scholarship recipients from different Universities. These scholars were trained via our partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Work, by Registered Nurse Gloria Wayne – Davis. At the end of the training, they were set to go out in their various communities, do awareness on how to prevent oneself from acquiring the EBOLA disease; they were also tasked with carrying out a survey of health facilities that are having medical supplies to protect themselves when attending to sick patients. Our Grantees who got trained came from five of our partner Tertiary Institutions, namely Starz College of Technology, Tubman University, African Methodist Episcopal Zion University, Smythe Institute and e University of Liberia
Ebola Prevention Community Outreach by GPFA Scholarship Recipients
Through the support of you all our GlobalGiving donors, GPFA was able to provide small grants to Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Media Institutions in Local and Rural communities. Four of our scholarship recipients, Becky, Vaiba, Gwendolyn and Grace are actually the leaders of four of the CBOs and they have been very active in helping to kick EBOLA out of Liberia. GPFA’s Scholars also did outreach with staff and they conducted a three days EBOLA Outreach Awareness with commercial drivers at public parking stations; they also assisted in educating Motorcyclists plying the targeted routes. All of this community awareness work was done to help stop the spread of the EBOLA Virus in Liberia. The need for contact tracing, the promotion of the regular washing of hands; Our awareness team made sure to share the Ministry of Health’s preventive measures and to talk about the reintegration of EBOLA survivors in their respective communities.
As we await the re-opening of schools, our GPFA AGLI scholars are actively involved in educating their communities on ways to stop the prevention of the EVD, giving awareness about contact tracing, and striving to carry out validation in their communities. The Foundation will continue to keep them engaged, innovatively making learning happen at all levels. GPFA will keep our AGLI Scholarship recipients involved in this fight to eradicate this deadly disease, whilst ensuring that they are themselves following the preventative measures as announced by the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and the Liberian Health Ministry, and keeping safe.
Dreams Realized & Moving Toward Targeted Advocacy
We are so very happy to report that as of our last two reports, "the success story” where we highlighted 2 of our scholars obtaining Bachelor & Associate Degrees from 2 local Universities in Liberia, we have had several other reasons to celebrate. We are excited to share with you our newest success stories:
OUR 2014 HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE!!!
We are so honored and proud to announce that our AGLI High Schol Senior Ernestine earned a High School Diploma from the Effort Baptist Church School on June 30, 2014. Ernestine has applied to the Foundation’s International Scholarship program for tertiary schools and a determination will be made as soon as possible to get her enrolled into college.
GPFA's INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS OFF TO A NEW START!!!
Four of our scholars (all West African female students) left for the United States of America in the second week of August, 2014 to study at various Universities/Colleges. They include: Georgia , Yvonne, Anita and Delight. Georgia is our first Liberian student to gain admission into a full Master Program at the University of Arkansas, Clinton School of Public Service in Arkansas, USA. Georgia holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communication (2011) from the African Methodist Episcopal University in Monrovia. Yvonne, a sophomore Scholar at the United Methodist University was able to matriculate to the Cedar Crest University undergraduate program in Pennsylvania, USA, where she is currently studying for a Bachelor in Social Work. Delight and Anita, both Ghanaian nationals, are pursuing undergraduate degrees at Eastern Mennonite University, Virginia, USA and Barnard College, New York, USA respectively. These 4 young women were awarded international scholarships on January 30, 2014 at the Foundation's 2nd Gala Anniversary held in Liberia.
GATHERING OF SCHOLARS
On June 17, 2014, our 2nd Gathering of Scholars took place at the Musu's Spot Conference Hall, in Congo Town, Liberia. Twenty-five girls were opportune to interact with the Founder/President of GPFA, Madam Gbowee and other members of GPFA management team. In this gathering, the girls were encouraged to share personal stories and challenges they faced in school and life in general. It was also a time of getting to know each other - especially the girls who were attending schools outside Monrovia. It was a great time of experience sharing. Our international Education Program intern, conducted an hour of training on how to write resumes (curriculum vitae) and sit for an interview. We had a visiting dean and professor from a university in California come share with the students about life on a US College campus. The highlight of the gathering was the determination of the express need to get into targeted advocacy to help eradicate sexual exploitation of young girls on secondar and tertiary school campuses.
INTERNSHIP PLACEMENTS OF LOCAL SCHOLARS
Under the AGLI scholarship program, the scholars are required to participate in a month-long community service internship with various Institutions, as a way of giving back to their respective communities and/or counties. The Program Department at the Foundation worked with the girls to identify areas for placement based on their area of specialization at their respective Universities/Colleges. These girls are placed on internship at different intervals throughout the year, with perdiem/stipend provided to them for their time with their host facility. As part of the placement process, our program staff accompanied some of the girls within Monrovia for placement after an official letter was sent and the institution(s) confirmed their acceptance. Some of these Institutions included the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital, Liberia Observer Corporation and the Center for Agriculture & Research Institution (CARI). Mid-way into their internships, we had to pull the girls out of the facilities due to the heightened outbreak of the EBOLA Virus in Liberia. For now, with schools closed, we have enlisted the help of the older students to go out and do targeted EBOLA outreach and awareness. They were given training by a specialist from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare from its department of Prevention and Disease Control on the education about, eradication and prevention of the deadly disease.
GBOWEE PEACE FOUNDATION AFRICA
AFRICAN GIRLS LEADERSHIP INITIATIVE IS ENSURING WOMEN & GIRLS REALIZE THEIR DREAMS
In our last two reports, the success story portion captured graduates at the undergraduate level with Welma and Korto earning Associate of Science Degree in Nursing and Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Administration from Mother Patern College of Health Sciences of the Stella Maris and the University of Liberia respectively.
This time we have climbed a step further to capture our students at the Graduate level. We are also excited to share the stories of our first student to be admitted into a Master Program and our Liberian scholar pursuing undergraduate degree in Ghana who had just returned for her summer break.
In less than three years since our founding we are proud to announce that two of our scholars (Grace and Vaiba) have successfully completed their Graduate Certificate studies in Peace Building & Leadership from the Eastern Mennonite University in the United States of America. With support from the Foundation and its partners, many more African women and girls have come to realize their dreams.
We are also delighted to announce that our first ever student to pursue a full Master Degree has gain admission into the prestigious Clinton School of Public Service-University of Arkansas. Her name is Georgia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communication(2011) from the African Methodist Episcopal University in Monrovia,Liberia. Georgia will be joining other students from other parts of the world in August 2014 to begin her Master Program in Public Service.
Above: GPFA Scholar, Georgia displaying her Scholarship Award Letter from the Foundation to Clinton School of Public Service-University of Arkansas
Our Scholar Julateh on Summer Break
Julateh, born in Harbel, Liberia left Liberia in 2012 to pursue undergraduate degree in Computer Science at the Ashesi University College in Ghana. Midway into her studies, Julateh has come back for her summer break and is so excited to give back to her community. She will be returning to Ghana on August 29, 2014 to complete the remaining two years of her studies and is hoping to be able to give back to Liberia. “I really want to share what I have learnt with those who may not have the same opportunity God had given me” were her exact words. Her official internship starts in July but she wants to start giving back now. She visited her high school and has already started talking to authorities there to give her the space to help. What a good example for others to learn.
Monthly Breakfast Walk & Talk
Our monthly Breakfast Walk & Talk for April (Easter Egg Hunt) and May (Mothers & Daughters Walk-a-thon) was held in commemoration of Easter and Mother’s Day respectively. Our “Space of Nothingness” attracted as young as two years old and reignited the need for mentorship, social support and showing appreciation. In April it was “hunting for eggs” and in May it was to show appreciation to not only biological mothers but any women one appreciates in their life.
Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa (hereinafter “Foundation”) is proud to announce that we have our second graduate, Korto Johnson who graduated from the University of Liberia on December 18, 2013 under the Foundation’s African Girls Leadership Initiative (AGLI).She has been awarded a scholarship by the Foundation to do her Masters at KU-Leuven in Belgium.
Above: GPFA Scholar, Korto Johnson (Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration) with Mrs. Norris, GPFA Program Assistant at her graduation program in Paynesville, Liberia.
Update on Programs
The Foundation under its African Girls Leadership Initiative (AGLI) presently has 50 scholarship recipients. However, financial aid and school related support have been provided to fourteen students under our two newly launched Our Children’s Fund and President’s Fellows.
The Foundation held a successful Educational Roundtable on December 19th, 2013 under the theme, ”Seeking Solutions, Feasible Alternative Solutions”. This Educational Roundtable brought together thirty-two trainers and specialists from universities government line ministries, vocational and technical institutions. Their discussion in line with the goal was centered on seeking solutions to the present stagnant status of the Educational system in the hope of providing a new way of learning to help alleviate the learning challenges faced by students in Liberia. Above: Participants at the Educational Roundtable held in Monrovia on December 19, 2013
The 2nd Annual Breakfast Walk and Talk End of Year Event under the theme: “Walk for Quality Education” was held on December 21st, 2013 bringing together 300 women, men, girls and boys. This was a ten mile Walk with participants carrying banners with various messages advocating for the provision of quality education for all.
Our first Breakfast Walk and Talk for 2014 was held on February 22nd, 2014 under the theme “Love”. with Rev. Dr. Katurah York Cooper serving as the motivational speaker.
“The Afternoon Enrichment Program is positively impacting the lives of students in River Cess County by both improving and being perceived as improving their academic performances and helping in the development of other life skills. These impacts should not be seen as restricted to Cestos City alone, but rather as covering the entire county of Rivercess, since its only high school, Cestos High is included in the project. These improvements include: Higher scores, higher retention rates, lower pregnancies among female students, increased capacities of schools through provision of materials and training of some instructors/administrators”.
Annual Gathering of Scholars scholars
Above: GPFA’s scholars during a group work session at the Annual Gathering of Scholars
The 2nd Annual Gathering of Gbowee Scholars was held at Musu's Spot on January 29th 2014. The Annual Gathering brought together 40 AGLI beneficiaries from 9 local universities, 5 high schools, 1 vocational school and the Eastern Mennonite University and 3 of our prospective international scholarship recipients for Vassar College, Barnard College and Clinton School of Public Service respectively in the United States of America. This gathering provided the opportunity for them to interact and personally engage Nobel Laureate Madam Leymah Gbowee. The scholars discussed leadership as it relates to women and shared the challenges encountered by female students in schools. These challenges ranged from regular power cut (no electricity) for high school boarding students to study at night and the reality of getting back home late after school due to limited transportation services available in the city for commuting students. Classes are overcrowded due to limited available professors for major courses.
GPFA 2nd Anniversary Fund Raising Dinner was held on January 31st at the Executive Pavilion. Seven International scholarships were awarded. On this day, the AED Technical Institute for Girls and our two new programs earlier mentioned were launched - Our Children Fund and The President’s Fellows.
GPFA Scholars during the 2nd Anniversary Fundraising Dinner at the Executive Pavilion in Monrovia on January 31st, 2014
 End of Project Evaluation Report of the Afterschool Enrichment Program conducted in December 2013 by Phil Tarpeh Dixon
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