And...we're back! Liberia is back on its feet after experiencing one year of the outbreak of the deadly EBOLA Virus Disease (EVD). Life is returning to normality with students hastening to recover from the major setbacks in school activities. In mid-2014, fear and trauma took over the lives of all in Liberia. Students could not go to school due to fear of group gathering, which was one of the easiest ways of contracting the EVD. Not only were schools shut down, but the entire educational system and process was grounded. Now that Liberia has been declared EBOLA-free, other ancillary school/extra-curricular activities are beginning to resume. Due to this progress, the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa (GPFA) has also recommenced its full assembly of educational programs – after engaging in EBOLA related interventions.
Since Liberia was declared EBOLA-free, GPFA has gotten involved in a host of activities geared towards de-traumatizing the students of the harrowing effects of the EVD. During this period, we brought together several of our beneficiaries under the African Girls Leadership Initiative (AGLI). The essence of the gathering was to formulate new ideas for development and progress for the post-EVD era. Our beneficiaries exchanged views on the kinds of school activities they would like to see in the post-EVD era. The girls also shared views of the challenges they faced during and after the outbreak of the EBOLA virus. Also, other issues affecting their growth and development were highlighted during the discussion.
GPFA RECRUITS NEW INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
GPFA’s flagstaff main focus is to empower women. In so doing, we also provide educational, financial, social and relevant opportunities to especially, vulnerable women and girls across Liberia. We prepare women and girls for both local and international opportunities in different field of studies and careers. In April this year, the Dublin City University (DCU) in Dublin, Ireland, established a Master’s Scholarship opportunity in honor of Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee, for a female student to enroll into either their Masters of Arts degree in International Security and Conflict Studies, or, in Development Studies. Several motivated young Liberian female students applied to be considered for the scholarship. After 3 competitive rounds of interviews that included a Skype interview process with DCU Officials, a successful candidate was finalized upon. Tennen, the fortunate candidate holds a Bachelor Degree in Mass Communication from the African Methodist Episcopal University and dreams of working to enhance the state of women and war affected people in the world, especially considering her childhood life in a refugee camp. For Tennen this dream will soon become a reality having been given the opportunity to pursue a Masters in International Security and Conflict Studies at the DCU in Ireland.
Georgia, our international Master Program Scholar at the University of Arkansas - Clinton School of Public Service is back in Liberia to carry out an approved internship over the summer break. In so doing, Georgia is fulfilling the part of her responsibilities as a contracted GPFA beneficiary that speaks to giving back to the community through service. Also, during their scholarship period, beneficiaries are required to volunteer or intern with GPFA. Georgia, who is pursuing her Master in Public Service, is interning with GFA and the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS), carrying out Programmatic Impact Assessment for both entities.
AGLI 2nd MALE STUDENT COMMENCES INTERNSHIP AT GPFA
Prince, GPFA’s second male student on the AGLI program commenced his first semester studying Accounting at the Cuttington University in Bong County. Prince spent his first semester break interning at our head office in Congo Town and proved very valuable to the Program Department.
PEACE THROUGH FAIR PLAY (PTFP)
GPFA is preparing to host its Peace through Fair Play (PTFP) Annual Youth camp, after one year of postponement due to the Ebola outbreak. PTFP is one of GPFA’s development programs which bring together young people between the ages of 10-16. These youths come from many diverse backgrounds. The goal of PTFP youth camp is to promote respect, integrity and accountability as basis for fostering peace among youth in Liberia. The 2015 youth camp is expected to bring together 40 young people for a four-day Day camp.
We are very grateful to all our many partners who continue to support us even during our difficult health crisis. Every support given makes a great difference in the life of our beneficiaries and your donations have contributed to getting us where we are as an organization today. Additional value and hopes have been given to the lives of our beneficiaries, all because of the benevolent donations through partners like you from our GlobalGiving family. Since the reopening of schools, the Foundation has placed a total of 30 students in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in and out of Monrovia. We would love to hear back from you as to your thoughts on the work we are doing and how best we can continue making impact in the life of our target demography. Thanks ever so much for believing is our mission.
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.
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