The Ministry of Gender and Development, THINK, and HOPE successfully held a Consultative Dialogue on Child Marriage at the Krystal Ocean View Hotel in Monrovia on Friday, October 19, 2012 in continuation of the International Day of the Girl Child. Panelists from the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Justice, Education, Health, Civil Society Organization, and a girl from the National Children’s Representative Forum gave short presentations after which thought provoking questions and answers were entertained.
A group of 30 girls developed a Manifesto during a workshop the week earlier and read the manifesto to those in attendance as well as to media institutions (print and electronic). The Manifesto will be presented to H. E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on October 26, 2012 at the closing of the national observance of the Day of the Girl Child, though programs will continue through out the year. The program was graced by the Deputy Minister of Gender and Development, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the United Nations Resident Coordinator, UNCEF, UNFPA, Women’s Legislative Caucus, parents, Traditional and Religious Leaders, CSOs, 50 girls, and media institutions.
I. Narrative Information:
On September 25, 2011 the THINK home opened its doors to 25 girls and 11 children under-five for the ninth cycle of the THINK home. The girls are from 8 Liberian counties and 1 girl is from Sierra Leone.
With a scholarship from Vital Voices, the Executive Director attended the 2nd World Conference on Women’s Shelters in Washington, DC from February 27 – March 1, 2012 and served a co-presenter on “Improving Shelters in Post Conflict Developing Countries” along with MS. Beverly Goll Yekeson also of Liberia. The experience of the conference was very motivating for Ms. Schaack and she was able to network and join the Global Network of Women Shelters and has shared this experience with the colleagues back in Liberia. She is in communication with women she met at the conference and members of the African Caucus. Thank you, Vital Voices Global Partnership!
Achievements During The Quarter
During the second quarter, the 25 girls began their Business Development Skills (BDS) training in February using the DBS curriculum that was developed by the UN Joint Programme on Gender Equality and Women Economic Empowerment (GEWEE). THINK uses this curriculum with market women in 14 markets in 5 counties of Liberia. The training is designed to have the trainees sit in class for 1 ½ hours, 2 days a week for 3 months. By the end of the training, the girls will open a savings account with funds generated from sales they have been making from their baking, hair or clothing productions.
The 25 girls and staff went for their second field trip to Buchanan, Grand Bassa County. They visited the Buchanan Central Prison, the Juvenile and Women sections of the prison, and the Port of Buchanan.
The THINK Home drama team performed a drama on child trafficking at a community program on Peace Island. The community members and platform guests were very impressed with the message of the drama and the girls were able to express themselves well.
To date, 25 girls are completing work and preparing for their graduation on May 26, 2012, 19 families have been successfully traced, and 7 girls (3 groups) from the Tailoring class have been placed in professional tailoring shops for apprenticeships. When this group graduates, THINK will have put out 276 graduates from the THINK Rehabilitation Home Program.
Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) workshop was held on April 12, 2012 and covered the following topics: HIV and Gender Based Violence, Peace and Conflict Resolution, Making a living, Good Governance, and Family Life Education.
Sporting events with community youth resulted in THINK girls beating one out of three games. During internal games among the classes, the Pastry class always came out victorious.
We are trying to improve our methodology to get better results when it comes to economic empowerment of the girls upon graduation. We are also contemplating on running a vacation program for adolescent girls from the immediate community and charging a small fee to pay the teachers and counselors and to buy materials used in the vocational areas.
The SGBV medical clinic is operating and sees an average of 44 new sexual violence survivors a month since the beginning of the year. 132 SGBV cases were received during the quarter: (January-43, February-44, and March-45).
We thank you!
The girls of Cycle 9 at the THINK Rehabilitation Home and the staff are progressing with planned activities as stipulated in their work plan for 2011/2012. The girls are doing very well in their academic work as well a in their vocational skills training classes. Many of the girls have expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to sit in a classroom and learn how to read and write or for those who are school dropouts for the chance to sit in a classroom again. After the first evaluation tests were conducted, 2 girls were given a promotion to the next ALP Level. One girl, Grace started in ALP Level I and was promoted to Level II in the mid term evaluation. At the end of the term, she was again promoted to ALP Level III and Rena was promoted from Level I to II at the end of the first evaluation.
The girls and staff went for their first field trip on November 19,2011. They went to the Unity Conference Center in Virginia that had been built especially for the hosting of the 1989 OAU conference. The Centennial Pavilion was under renovation so we couldn’t take them there this year to have a tour and listen to the history of the arrival of the pioneers and to see the original signatures of the 11 men that signed the Declaration of Independence on July 26,1847.
As part of our Youth Networking Activities, 3 girls were selected to participate in a dramatic dance group with girls from high schools and colleges around Monrovia. The young women and girls including 3 THINK Home girls performed during a honoring program for 3 Distinguished Liberian women:
The 3 THINK Home girls danced with precision and grace while Oretha portrayed Leymah Gbowee in a dramatization act as an excerpt of her book was read to the audience. The program was hosted by a group of women called Women of Purpose at the Empowerment Temple of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Congo Town, Monrovia on November 26, 2011.
Two (2) of the triplets that graduated from THINK Home on May 29, 2011, Faith and Success ---- died on December 6, 2011 after they were stuffed with some mixture of herbs by a women that rents in the same house as their parents. The survivor, Courage, was sick but has recovered but misses her sisters. We brought Courage and her mother Annette to the THINK Home for two weeks to get counseling, spiritual and psychosocial support. THINK is supporting the family as they have sought legal redress. The case has been placed on the docket of the County Attorney and will undergo the due process of the law.
The THINK Home celebrated Christmas with a dramatization of the Christmas story. Former Miss Liberia for 2006, served as the Key Note Speaker. The program was attended by community members, SPIR Child Protection Staff, staff of other THINK projects, and Ms. Charlene McGee and her brother---- McGee, who were here to spend Christmas with their sister Ms Annette McGee, of the Juvenile Division at the Ministry of Justice.
Ms. McGee gave a donation of baby and toddler size Nike sneakers she received from a department store in the United States. The THINK babies and little kids also received sweets, sun glasses, and toy cell phones from Helping Our People Excel (HOPE). THINK received 100 care Packets from AVON through the instrumentality of Mrs. Beverly Goll Yekeson of the Liberia Crisis Center for Women and Children. Mrs. Yekeson has two shelters in Monrovia that she organizes fund raising events for including a “Run For Shelters” that she did from Buutuo to Monrovia to raise funds for Ivorian Refugees. Mrs. Yekeson lives in Maryland, USA with her two little girls, 7 and 5 years old.
Business Development Skills (BDS)
To improve the business qualification of THINK Home graduates this year, the girls will be taught BDS using the curriculum we use for the market women project that THINK implements in collaboration with UN Women and the Ministry of Gender and Development. The BDS training is designed in a way that the trainees have classes for1 ½ hours 2 days a week for three months.
I am the only child of my mother. My mother died while I was about 7 years old. I lived with her until her death. When my mother died, her older sister brought me to Monrovia to live with her. Since my aunt brought me to live with her, I have never been sent to school. Before the death of my mother, I was attending school.
My aunt did not abuse me verbally or physically. The only problem I had with her is that she did not send me to school. She made no effort nor encouraged me to go to school. All I did was to work in the house doing chores and sometimes washed her clothes when she went to work. She worked as a domestic worker (house help) on the A.B. Tolbert Road in Paynesville. Whenever I told her about my desire to go to school, I got the same answer, “I do not have money to send you to school.” This always made me sad and I would sometimes cry and miss my mother.
I am presently at the THINK Home receiving psychosocial support and counseling. I am so happy that my dream of going to school is a reality now. I am doing academic work in ALP level I and in vocational skills training am in Pastry making. My prayer is that after my graduation in June 2012, I will continue my education and use my skills to support myself.
I was born in 1993 in Nimba County. My parents are from Nimba. I am the third child of my mother’s seven (7) children, five (5) by my biological father and two (2) by my stepfather. I am a 2nd grade drop out and have one child, a girl.
I was brought to Monrovia by one of my mother’s friends who had come to visit her during a business trip to Nimba. She had told my mother that she would send me to school but she did not register me when we came to Monrovia. A few months later, my mother joined us along with her husband, my stepfather. One relative of my stepfather joined the family and we all lived in one house in the Barnersville Community. The relative of my stepfather developed a close relationship to me and I felt like his own daughter. One afternoon, to my greatest shock, he called me to the guest room and raped me. I was a virgin at the time. As soon as my mother came home, I reported what he had done to me. She called the police and he was arrested and taken to jail. The police then took me to Benson Hospital for treatment. I was referred to the THINK Safe Home where I received counseling and psychosocial support. After staying at the THINK Safe Home for a few months, I was reunified with my mother who had relocated to the 72nd Community. My stepfather’s attitude towards me got worse and I could not stand living with my mother and him any longer. I moved from their house to live with my boyfriend in Thinker’s Village. I have a son whose name is George. I heard about the THINK Rehabilitation Home and went to register my name for the program. I did follow up and passed the interview. I entered the home and am pat of the ALP Level II Class and I am doing Tailoring in the vocational training. I am receiving counseling and psychosocial support. I really enjoy the life skills classes.
I was born August 27, 1993, the third of eight children. My parents are no longer together. I came to Monrovia in 2003 to live with my grandmother and attend school. My brothers and sisters and I could not live with our mother and stepfather because he was very abusive. My mother did not have the strength to protect us from him. Whenever she tried to stop him, she got the worst of the abuse. He would beat her up so badly that we decided that we could not live with her any longer and went to live with our grandmother who tried her best to take care of us.
When I came to Monrovia by the grace of God, I started going to school. In 2010, I got pregnant. My grandmother was very angry with me because she said all her effort to help me become somebody had come to nothing. She almost put me out of the house. The man that had gotten me pregnant agreed to support me during the early stage of my pregnancy (first three months). When the pregnancy was in the fourth month, he vanished. According to some of his friends, he left town in pursuit of a job. I have not heard from him since then. I gave birth to a baby girl. Her name is Marian. My grandmother covered the expenses of my delivery and has done everything for my baby me. I was recruited to enter the THINK Home and on September 26, 2011, my baby and I entered the THINK Home as part of Cycle 9. I am presently receiving counseling and psychosocial support, academic work in ALP Level III and Tailoring in the vocational skills training. Upon my graduation in June 2012, I will go to live with my grandmother. I pray to continue going to school and make the most of everything I have learned including the life skills training.
I was born October 20, 1992 in Bong County. I am presently 19 years old. I am a mother of two children. My parents are divorced. My mother re-married and I live with my mother and stepfather in Zubah Town.
I was attending the J.C. Goodridge School at ELWA Junction. One day in 2006, my mother asked me to escort her to the taxi station get a car to go to the market. Upon my return, my stepfather was in their room and I went to my room. After a short while, my stepfather came into my room and said he wanted to have sex with me. I said no. He told me that since I refused for him to have sex with me, he would not pay my school fess anymore and left my room. When my mother returned from the market I told her what had happened. My mother refused to believe me and said I was lying on her husband and did not say anything about what I had told her so I let it go. After a few months past, my stepfather paid my balance school fees. When it was time for payment of the second semester tuition, he refused to pay the fees. When I told my mother, she said she didn’t have any money so I should wait for the following school year. Around that time, I met a boy that attended the same school whose parents had money. I started an intimate relationship with him and he paid my second semester school fees and 6th grade West African Examination fees. Because he paid my school fees, I traded sex for his favors. I got pregnant as a result of the sexual relationship and dropped from school. When my parents noticed that I was pregnant, they threw my things out of the house so I went to my boyfriend to see if I could live at his house. His parents denied that I was pregnant for their son and refused for me to live in their home. My boyfriend accepted the pregnancy and both of us went to my big sister in Congo Town and she took me in. When I was eight months pregnant, my mother came to take me back home. I refused to go with my mother at first but my sister convinced me to go back home with my mother. Upon my return home, my boyfriend got sick and died. After his death, I gave birth to a girl and named her Secter.
In 2010, my stepfather put me out of the house again. This time, I took to the streets and lived out there for eight months. One day, my friends and I went out to a club and I met my brother there. He called me aside and asked me what I was doing at the club. I told him that our parents had put me out of the house and explained all that I had been experiencing on the streets. He took me to his house and I spent three weeks there with him. While I was at his house, he went to beg our parents for me to return home. They agreed and I went home pregnant with the second child. I delivered and had a boy. His name is Daddy Boy. I have not been to school until I came to THINK Home where I am presently in ALP Level III, doing Cosmetology in vocational training, receiving life skills training, getting psychosocial support and counseling and getting Biblical knowledge.
I pray for knowledge and understanding to learn all that I am doing so I will apply them to my life when I graduated from THINK Home in June.
Director of THINK is Keynote Speaker at Humphrey Graduation 2011 - University of Minnesota
Excerpts from speech:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am most honored to have been asked to serve as the Key Note speaker at this most auspicious occasion.
I have a question. Are leaders born or are leaders made? By the end of my address, you can decide what the answer is.
I often wonder what transformed this shy little girl into a proactive voice of change in the Republic of Liberia? Though I am an introvert by nature, I am prompted to speak out when necessary.
Getting involved with the development process in Liberia is an obligation for me. I would say, passion and the need to give back to community has been my driving force.
I have found out that using knowledge and skills you possess helps you to achieve your goal, but developing the knowledge and skills take you to another level in your professional endeavors.
Starting the organization called Touching Humanity In Need of Kindness (THINK) was prompted when I participated in conducting a survey to learn about the war experiences of women and girls in Liberia. Listening to the stories of the women in our team and hearing the stories of many women and girls in the environs of Monrovia and later in the Ivory Coast from Liberian refugee women and girls, I was compelled to do something.
My intentions were good but I lacked skills in being a great leader. Along came the opportunity of being a Humphrey International Fellow.
When I arrived here in Minneapolis, I was the oldest in my group, a grandmother, and I feared that I would be older than my host family. As it turned out I wasn’t. I have the most wonderful host family! My roommate and I had opposite personalities; she is an extrovert, Muslim, I am introvert, Christian, but we have two things in common. We both came from conflict countries and we both are coffee drinkers. Graduates, I am here to challenge you to take back to your countries what you have acquired this year and make the most of it. Keep in contact and network with those you have had the opportunity to meet and work with. Would you on your own have been able to go inside the State Department or the World Bank, or go to any city of your choice and attend a training seminar from the American Management Association (AMA)? Would you have had the opportunity to meet and mix with so many mid-level professionals from around the world? Would you have had the opportunity to have a mentor from a sophisticated county government and learn about policy and management in such a setting?...
My country has come out of 14 years of civil war and there is so much to be done to restore normalcy, good governance and infrastructure. My life has not been the same since I returned home. I am sure that you will agree with me that this year has been valuable. Do take these last 6 weeks seriously as you go to your affiliations. Prepare to shine as true alumni of the HHH International Fellowship Program. You can make the legacy of the great American from Minnesota, Hubert H. Humphrey shine in your corner of our global community. Hubert Humphrey left such a legacy because his focus was directed toward selfless service to citizens of the United States. We are here because he also had a vision of providing opportunities to develop leaders from other parts of the world.
In conclusion, I want to ask you about the question I pose at the beginning of my speech, what do you think? Are leaders born or are they made? How do you answer that question after your year here? The course we took in Leadership for the Common Good is a major building block for the Humphrey International Fellowship Program. My sincere thanks to Professor Garry DeCramer, Ms. Sudha Shetty and their teams for presenting such basic principles of leadership to us that we can use practically in our home countries. Some leaders are born but all true and productive leaders are made.
To view full version of speech... go to link below
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We Are The Leaders of Our World
Ms. Meredith McQuaid, Associate Vice President and Dean, International Programs,
Dean Greg Lindsey, Interim Dean, Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs,
Ms. Sudha Shetty, Director Hubert H. Humphrey International Fellowship Program,
Faculty of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs,
When I arrived here in Minneapolis, I was the oldest in my group, a grandmother, and I feared that I would be older than my host family. As it turned out I wasn’t. I have the most wonderful host family! My roommate and I had opposite personalities; she is an extrovert, Muslim, I am introvert, Christian, but we have two things in common. We both came from conflict countries and we both are coffee drinkers. I did two affiliations that have enhanced my work in Liberia to the highest level. The quiet reserved Rosana is now a proactive Rosana. In child protection, my organization is actively engaging the National Senate to pass the Children’s Act along with another local NGO called Helping Our People Excel (HOPE), the Child Protection Network of Liberia, and the Ministry of Gender and Development. I give thanks to Hennepin County Department of Public Health Human Services, Child Protective Services and my mentor Ms. Deborah Hodgkins and Ms. Lynn Lewis, my Supervisor for helping me develop the skills to do this.
My second affiliation was with “Alternatives to Family Violence” in Denver, Colorado Thanks to the mentoring of my supervisor, Ms. Yolanda Gotier. When I returned to Liberia, rather than being in the back seat, my organization, THINK, became the lead agency in the provision of Clinical Management of Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Liberia.
Graduates, I am here to challenge you to take back to your countries what you have acquired this year and make the most of it. Keep in contact and network with those you have had the opportunity to meet and work with. Would you on your own have been able to go inside the State Department or the World Bank, or go to any city of your choice and attend a training seminar from the American Management Association (AMA)? Would you have had the opportunity to meet and mix with so many mid-level professionals from around the world? Would you have had the opportunity to have a mentor from a sophisticated county government and learn about policy and management in such a setting?
Thank you to the University of Minnesota and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs for the opportunity to be here, to receive this honorable reward, and speak to you today.
This month we were honored to have the International Reporting Project (IRP) Delegation to Liberia visit the THINK rehabilitation home. The editors/journalists were moved by seeing GBV survivors in person andgetting to talk with them one-on-one. You can read the full report at the link below.
Many thanks to the following:
Gatekeeper EditorsJuhie Bhatia, managing editor, Women's eNews, New YorkJohn Diaz, editorial page editor, San Francisco Chronicle, California Tiffany Harness, deputy foreign editor, The Washington Post, Washington DCJordana Hochman, editor, "Morning Edition," National Public Radio, Washington DCLaura McClure Houghton, new media editor, Mother Jones magazine, San Francisco, CADenise Johnson, editorial board member, Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MinnesotaSunni Khalid, managing news editor, WYPR-FM, Baltimore, MarylandRobert Little, director, investigations, The Baltimore Sun, MarylandToni Randolph, editor for new audiences, Minnesota Public Radio, MinnesotaSteven Scher, executive producer, KUOW-FM, Seattle, WashingtonTeresa Wiltz, senior editor, The Root.com, Washington DCInternational Reporting Project (IRP)Louise Lief, deputy director, International Reporting Project (IRP), Washington DCEd Robbins, producer-writer-director, International Reporting Project - TIME.com, New YorkJohn Schidlovsky, director, International Reporting Project (IRP), Washington DCFoundation representatives accompanying delegationSean Harder, program officer, The Stanley Foundation, Muscatine, IowaVanessa Parra, communications manager, Humanity United, Redwood City, CaliforniaJulia Thornton communications manager, Humanity UnitedAlexander Turnacliff, program associate, The Stanley Foundation, Muscatine, Iowa
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