Women and girls are the backbone of local communities in Liberia. Their active participation in vital daily activities and decision-making processes drives development and transforms the way communities face their most pressing challenges.
The commitment to support women and help them unleash their potential as leaders and active participants in every sphere of life is etched in the EJS Center’s DNA. Based in Liberia, the Center is working to help women take on advanced roles in their communities, organizations, and society at large.
This year, the EJS Center completed its first-ever grant project to support women-led organizations providing education, health, and other key services for local Liberian communities. This initiative – the Liberia Support Program – offered grants to three organizations delivering outstanding projects that are transforming the lives of women and girls across Liberia.
The Liberia Support Program funds, made possible thanks to a generous grant of $95,000 USD from the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), were allocated to the Healing Liberia Foundation, FACE Africa, and Girls In Tech Liberia.
Operating in Liberia’s Jaster Town, Rivercess County, FACE Africa used the funds to develop much needed clean water and sanitation facilities. Through an ambitious community development project, FACE Africa installed accessible clean water pumps and latrines that improved the health and living conditions of women and girls in the community. Instances of water-borne diseases reduced significantly and, as a result, school absenteeism dropped by at least 40%.
FACE Africa also helped local women embrace leadership roles in the implementation of the project. Women made up half of newly-established local committees charged with ensuring the sustainability of the project. One of these women leaders is Thelma M. Johnson who, following extensive training, became part of the team responsible for the maintenance of the clean water facilities in the community.
A mother of two, Ms. Johnson was able to invest her newly-acquired skills in income-generating activities and in supporting neighboring local communities. “I am happy to be called to help rehabilitate wells in other communities when needed,” she stated.
Witnessing the transformative impact of FACE Africa’s work in Jaster Town, nurse practitioner and founder of Po River Medical Clinic, Jennifer Butwill, highlighted the importance of the training the project offers. Noting that “the organization has really thought about all the outcomes,” Ms. Butwill said that local community members were given a leading role in ensuring the long-term impact of the project and “how to sustain good hygiene and sanitation over time.”
Making use of the Liberia Support Program funds, Girls in Tech Liberia (GITL) was able to further its mission to equip young women with essential technology skills. This support enabled the organization to offer training sessions to 110 women in Microsoft Office and QuickBooks.
The training significantly increased the employment prospects of the participating women and encouraged them to consider pursuing a career in the STEM fields. At least half of the trainees were able to access the job market and secure employment thanks to the enhanced computer literacy and digital skills they acquired.
T. Elaine Kpalloh and Melissa B.J. Yeanay gained essential computer literacy skills and further developed their technical competencies thanks to GITL’s training. This allowed Ms. Kpalloh to obtain a Microsoft Office certification and helped Ms. Yeanay secure employment as a secretary.
The funding has also been instrumental in propelling GITL’s mission forward, enabling the provision of a mini-computer lab that supports their ambitious goal of training 10,000 women and girls by 2030.
With the aid of the fund, Healing Liberia undertook life-changing surgeries and medical interventions for patients across multiple counties in Liberia, with beneficiaries ranging from the ages 0 to 25 years. Two young twin sisters were able to undergo successful surgeries to correct extreme leg deformities, enabling them to walk pain-free whilst their mother was able to return to work and provide for the family.
Other beneficiaries of the generous grant from AWDF include a patient receiving life-saving surgery on his throat, while a young man bullied for a large tumor on his face received life-changing surgery to remove the mass, drastically increasing his quality of life.
The EJS Center is proud to support women-focused Liberian organizations and is looking forward to continuing to help them achieve exceptional work at the community and grassroots level.