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West Point

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Quarantined Community

Residents of Neidonwen Town, a community highly hit by Ebola-hit in Margibi County, where 17 year- old Abraham Memeigar was diagnosed with the disease have expressed frustration over the manner in which they were being treated by the Ministry of Health and its partners when they were quarantined.

The Neidonwen residents expressed frustration Wednesday, August 5, 2015, when the Liberian Media for Democratic Initiative (LMDI) held a public dialogue forum with them to understand the plight of the people, the recent Ebola outbreak, funds given and materials used to combat the disease.

Speaking during the dialogue, Neidonwen Youth Chairman, Abraham Garway, said during the outbreak and quarantine period, they were asked to remain at their various homes with an assurance of providing basic food items and other needs during the 21 days period, but unfortunately, he said the promise was reportedly unfulfilled by relevant authorities.

Residents explained that on several occasions, their names were written and tallied for food rations and preventive materials by the Health Ministry and other international organizations, but indicated that food and supplies were never given as promised.

However, in reaction, the Community Health Officer of Neidonwen, Miatta Massaquoi, said several food and materials were distributed to the affected persons and family of deceased 17-year old Abraham Memeigar because they were directly quarantined.

According to her, the entire village was never quarantined, noting that they should not have provided food rations to everyone because the entire town was not quarantined and besides, the rations were distributed by international non- governmental organizations and not the Ministry of Health.

It can be recalled that health authorities announced a new confirmed Ebola case in Margibi County in June this year. The head of Liberia’s Incident Management System Tolbert Nyenswah said Abraham Memeigar, a 17-year-old boy who died on Sunday, June 28 at his father’s residence in Unification City was Ebola- related.

Nyenswah said specimens extracted from the victim were confirmed Ebola positive following meticulous medical tests. He said about 28 persons were quarantined for being in direct contact with Memeigar before his death.

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Action Aid Ends Validation W/shop

By: Precious Gaye/0886539331/pgaye2042@gmail.com

Empowering through awareness to influence policies, Action Aid has concluded a two- day workshop in Monrovia.

Following a month- long assessment done in ten communities in Monsterrado, Gbarpolu, Margibi and Grand Cape Mount Counties on the effects of (EVD), over forty participants gathered at Sharks’ Entertainment Center in Sinkor on August 7-8 to submit a valid Post-Ebola recovery plan.

Speaking at the program, Action Aid Country Director, Korto Williams said: “We have members of communities, representations of the government, Media, women group, civil societies; when we share our ideas, [whenever] there is a conflict that affects our country. We will be in a position to respond and not have a high death toll.”

With an aim to advocate for policies, Madam Williams added: “We are trying to reach a citizen chart.”

Day two was marked by presentations done by four groups on policies reviewed such as the National Disaster Management Policy, National Health and Social Welfare Policy, the Agenda for Transformation (AfT) 2012-2017 and the Economic Stabilization and Recovery Plan.

Subsequently, participants concluded on the need for better analysis of policy documents, with the involvement of experts, getting the media to disseminate and simplify in other forms of communication, and create a platform to engage stakeholders.

In appreciation of the program,   Head of the National Rural Women Group in Margibi County, Esther Clarke, acknowledged: “Action Aid has been to our county to carry out [awareness]; they empower us by training us, though we were not part of the Ebola response.”

Madam Clarke also stressed: “This exercise should be implemented, we should not only [attend] workshops to add our voices after we [leave] everything [ends], we expect it to work.”

At the close of the program, assuring Action Aid’s commitment, Head of Programme and Policy, Laskshmi Moore, remarked: “We are building capacity of community around understanding policies. We know communities were not [informed] about existing policies and technical gaps around that.”

Founded in 1972, Action Aid works with local partners in over 45 countries, helping more than 15 million impoverished and disadvantaged people. Its head office is located in South Africa.

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GBA Fosters Unity

By: David S. Johnson/dsavid41@gmail.com / Intern

A newly founded youth-based organization in the Sophie Community, called Golden Bird Association (GBA), has vowed to foster unity among community members.

GBA, through its Chairman on Mobilization, Arthur Holder, said it will carry out the exercise by creating awareness on issues, including teenage pregnancy, harmful substances and other vices that pose danger to the society.

In an interview with the In Profile Daily on Saturday,  Holder said the organization intends to venture into awareness and counselling on teenage pregnancy and enlightening youths on being positive.

The GBA Mobilization Chairman noted that the organization was founded on July 12, 2014 with the aim  of promoting and scouting youthful talents as well as creating unity within the community and its surroundings.

According to him, one of the organization’s targets is the issue of tackling HIV/AIDs through awareness; which is one of the most prevalent sicknesses among young people.

Holder named another challenge confronting young people as  harmful drugs’ consumption by young people; something he noted the organization has been working to mitigate.

The GBA Mobilization Chairman also said if youth in the community are not properly educated to the effects of harmful drugs’ usage as well as the danger teenage pregnancy poses to young women, they will become addicted to such harmful substances thus impeding girls’ educational and social status.

Drug usage, he stressed, “starts with the individual and spreads through influence to other youths in the community as such, the organization seeks to give out free counselling to youths who are constantly involved with these negative practices.”

He continued: “It would be of importance if a fellow youth is helping in the process of mobilizing, counselling and creating awareness on important issues which seek to attract another youth into listening.”

Also speaking, the President of GBA, Mayango Sinnatuah, expressed frustration that the organization is not being supported by other well-meaning Liberians despite these meaningful contributions. “Rather, we are depending on internal source for income generations,” he said.

Sinnatuah also said: “The entire finance for this organization is being generated from the members through voluntary donations and dues.”

The GBA President also informed the In Profile Daily that though they have sent out several letters for support to organizations within the community and its environs, there hasn’t been any reply.

Sinnatuah said the organization is hoping to reduce illiteracy among youth in the community through awareness on the prevention of Human Immune Virus or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs) and its prevention.

He said they are anticipating the help of other organizations to help in buttressing their initiatives and further encouraged other communities to initiate programs that will empower youth for a brighter future.

Meanwhile, youths in the community have expressed satisfaction for the establishment of the organization which they said is fostering unity among them.

Plan To Combat SGBV, Harmful Traditional Practices Disclosed

By: Roland Davis-0776107962

The Government of Liberia and the United Nations Joint Programming Initiative to Prevent and Response to issues Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence and Harmful Traditional Practices in Liberia have designed a five- year strategic plan to deal with such situations in Liberia.

The five- year strategic plan program will run from July 2015 to July 2020, according to organizers.

This plan was disclosed at a meeting held recently at the RLJ Hotel, outside Monrovia, organized by UN Women in Liberia, facilitated by the Liberian Government and other UN agencies.

The meeting was aimed at finding a way forward for the implementation of the program in Liberia for the next five years, organizers indicated.

Giving  an overview of the strategic plan during the meeting, one of the facilitators, Patricia Jallah Scott, said the  plan is a proposal designed by the government and UN agencies intended to help build around a community-based approach, supported by five strategic pillars to prevent, response to SGBV cases and the issue of harmful traditional practices, particularly for Liberian girls.

Madam Scott indicated that the strategic plan is to also provide basic approach to the prevention, response to   survivor needs, safety, and protection in education, institutional strengthening and visibility or mass mobilization campaign against SGBV and harmful traditional practices in the country.

She noted that the program will help in protecting Liberian girls, including school- going population of the country, but called on the general public to collectively support the implementation of the program.

Madam Scott said the strategic plan has also been designed through a developed approach in local and consultative approach, including community dialogues conducted in ten of the fifteen counties of the country.

She said this was intended as a means of ensuring that the SGBV joint program builds on community solutions, informed by a robust context specific analysis of needs, based on communities’ knowledge and existing protection strategies, as well as disaggregated understanding of the diverse threats and opportunities within Liberia.

Madam Scott also noted that the approach was also intended to provide legal or policy analysis as well as institutional reviews to identify legal and policy enablers and the institutional readiness and capacity; a mapping of actors as an opportunity to strengthen synergies and avoid overlaps and duplication.

Meanwhile, also at the meeting, the organizers disclosed an estimated amount of US$50m as budget to be used for the implementation of the program in five years.

The meeting brought together several organizations, including government agencies, civil society groups, traditional council, UNDP, local media entities, WHO, UN Women, UNHCR, UNMIL,  UNFPA, among others.

The project is also facilities by the Ministry of Gender and Development, The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Information Cultural, Affairs and Tourism and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.