Oct 15, 2020

Status report of the program on the four new villages

As already mentioned in the previous report, A new phase of the village program was initiated in 2020, after a session of reflections over lessons learned, and targeted four new villages and 200 new business owners. In what follows, the new program progress will be explained in detail.

Contracts were signed on 29/02/2020 and the new program started finally on 01/03/2020 and the first reimbursement started on 12/03/2020. Thirty people (29 women and 1 man) were involved for the first six (6) months. This report concerns the evolution of the activities of the implementation of the “Small-scale business program in Agbelouve, Togo. Agbelouve is a small town about 50 km from Lomé and it is associated with three small villages Kpotsokope, Agbodzakpo, and Foulani Kondji, which are located within 30 km from Agbelouve.

Follow-up communication was arranged through cell-phone messages and calls to be sure of the implementation. The program on the field supports the people with small business such as sales of maize, beans and cakes, rice, yams and fruits, bags, clothes and shoes, drugs, goats, local drinks, bars, etc.

This program ended on 31/08/2020 and an onsite visit took place at the end of August to consider the real end and discuss with the loan takers. The people involved in this program were happy with the outcomes of the program and appreciated the support.

It is noticed that an increase in the amount of loans could significantly facilitate the small businesses reaching sustainability. Moreover, more candidates are identified and could be integrated into the next phase, thus more people could benefit from the advantages of this program having more funds available.

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Jun 20, 2020

An update

Background

Since Liberia experienced the 15 years prolongs civil unrest, the chances of chaos, crimes, violence, and addictiveness to elicit substance remain a huge challenge for former child soldiers (FCS), women associated with fighting forces (WAFF) and other war-affected youths (WAY). Today, a vast number of these men and women are caught up with the use of illicit substances, violence, and crime for a living. The rapid development of Liberia will continue to remain elusive if we continue to ignore the importance of promoting social change and relief to our war-affected men and women.

 

Capturing dreams & challenges

The Initiative for the Development of Former Child Soldiers (IDEFOCS) conducted Ghetto Outreach Forums interactive sessions during 2013 and 2014. The Forums were run with support from  Action10 and HR&S and brought together individuals from diverse backgrounds with complex situations.

The sessions aimed at informing about the danger of illicit substances, violence, and crime as well as collect information. We included surveys where ghetto boys and girls could explain in which way they would like support with facilitating a process where they regain their lives. The questions concerned personal background, recruitment by fighting forces, an assessment on how the DDRR programme (Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration programme which began in 2003 after the end of the civil war) affected the person, current circumstances, and current health status.

The survey aimed at capturing dreams as well as compiling challenges. Addressing all these challenges now constitute the strategy map for the IDEFOCS, HR&S, and Action10 collaboration programme.

 

Addressing dream & the challenges

The dreams were expressed as:
Everyone in Liberia lives in an environment that enables them to have a high-quality life. Drugs, violence, and crime are not part of their lives. All Liberians live in a home with their families. They have the training of the profession they wish, and they can all read and write. They have employment or run their own business and earn enough income to sustain their families. With the funds, they earn they can have quality health care and university education if they wish. They are safe in terms of social and physical security. They are all part of the society as equal Liberians.

The Ghetto dwellers also shared that such a support programme has to be offered outside the ghetto. As long as they live inside the ghetto, any sustainable changes of lifestyles are impossible. We have therefore procured a piece of land in a peaceful village by the sea, the Little Bassa, a one-hour drive from Monrovia. This site is now the location of our “Re-integration of former child soldiers" programme. IDEFOCS has cleared the land from trees, dug water well, planted cassava, and constructed a house where ghetto dwellers can stay and benefit from a rehabilitation programme. The house shall eventually have twenty rooms and thus attract twenty clients at a time. IDEFOCS has also included the community of Little Bassa, to ensure a loving and caring environment.

 

Our trauma counseling programme

We are now launching the trauma counseling programme. A team of trauma counseling professionals in Sweden and Liberians living in Sweden will educate and coach a group of local mental health care providers in Liberia at our Support Centre in Paintsville. The education will be on-line and be addressing basic mental care. The training will combine Swedish expertise and practice, African expertise and practice, and Liberian cultural traditions and values.

Mental health care will then be offered at our house in Little Bassa and also at our Support center in Buchanan that we run in collaboration with IDEFOCS. We will target former child soldiers, women associated with fighting forces, and others suffering from the cruelties of the past war.

Our local mental health care providers in Liberia are carefully selected and shall know how to interact with our clients, with the families and the communities while building awareness about mental health. We shall help our clients to understand mental health conditions and encourage adherence to treatment. Long-term, our ambition is to set up a trauma counseling training school.



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Jun 17, 2020

Four new villages

Through the many visits that S.E.VIE performed in the rural villages in the Zio prefecture in Togo during 2010 and 2011, the association identified a yet neglected but potential economic development opportunities of these villages.  Women from villages struggle every day to run their business. Even though they have a strong and detailed project; microfinance companies have given up on them. The women do not have enough financial resources to manage the farming and they have been excluded from regular microfinance institute. Isolated in the countryside and with no real guarantee to offers a loan giver; villagers desperately need money to invest and be able to develop their activities.  Yet, the Banks and the Microfinance institutions do not intervene in the remote areas of Togo.

Therefore, in 2012 S.E.VIE and Action10 decided to implement a programme addressing community services through social enterprising in rural Togo. The scope of the programme was to support women and men, who wanted to start social enterprises which should provide community services. SEVIE and Action10  jointly provide loans to the business managers, mostly women, with 10 % annual interest, combined with training and coaching in all areas required for success. The business managers come together in a village group called an assembly, in which a president, a secretary and a counsellor is elected. Inside this assembly, cooperatives of 4 to 6 women are created. Each woman received a certain amount of money according to their project and the payback is collective.

The first step was a pilot in Foulany Kondji in 2012. It gathered 30 women and grew successfully every year. The project in Foulany Kondji eventually gave rise to an assembly with 200 women and a few men. During a period of six years, the programme grew and was adopted by eight villages. The approach is embracing all aspects of community services. 

In 2019, S.E.VIE decided to move their project to a semi-urban context and to continue the collaboration with Action10 with the same approach elsewhere.  The management of the rural village programme was then taken over by Leaders&Development (L&D), and in 2020 another four villages in rural Togo have adopted the programme.

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