Over one hundred and thirty Community Based-Organizations (CBOs) converged at the offices of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) in Monrovia last week to learn how to apply for the mission’s new small grants program, known as Community Quick Impact Projects (CQIPS).
According to UNMEER Montserrado County Field Crisis Manager Peter Dalglish, the workshops are part of an initiative by UNMEER to provide CBOs with up to US$5,000 each to engage in a range of activities that will bring Liberia to zero new Ebola cases.
“It’s about more than just getting to zero; it’s about staying at zero. It’s about helping people who have been traumatized or stigmatized as a result of Ebola. Let’s consider all the quarantined families in Montserrado [County] who have suffered having been kept inside their homes for 21 days”, stated Dalglish.
“It has been really difficult for children when schools reopened two weeks ago. Quarantined children weren’t allowed return to school with their friends, so we are looking for projects that will provide them with support.”
According to Dalglish, UNMEER will be providing funds for a variety of projects. “It could be training for local women on health promotion. It could be a music program or installing a polystyrene tank on top of a primary school so that students have clean water to wash their hands.”
UNMEER has set aside US$100,000 under its Community Quick Impact Project (CQIPS) that will run for eight to 10 weeks. Each proposal will be reviewed within five days after it has been submitted and funding will be provided within two weeks after its approval.
With many of the smaller faith-based, women’s and youth organizations in Montserrado County not having bank accounts, funds will be received on their behalf by a registered organization.
Dalglish lauded Liberians for their character demonstrated since Ebola paralyzed the country in July 2014.
“Liberia is a strong country. You have a very strong President. I am from Canada [and] what I have learned is about the courage, resilience and determination of the Liberian people. The rest of the world should thank the Liberian people for stopping this disease dead in its track. As a country, you deserve the Nobel Peace Prize,” Dalglish added.
The workshops brought together 159 participants from 133 local community based organizations, most of which had never before attended a meeting at a United Nations office nor received funding from any international donor.
“The workshop was very educational [and] I enjoyed it. There are a lot of things that I learned here that I didn’t know because I have never been in the NGO [non-governmental organization] sector before. So it was important for me to have been here,” said TennehKromah, executive director of the Community Youth Initiative (CYI) based in Monrovia.
The CYI was established in 2013 with its programs implemented by voluntary contributions from its officials. Kromah hopes to secure some of the funds to help integrate Ebola survivors into the community.
“There is a demarcation between the non-Ebola and Ebola survivors. We need to go into the community to educate people that when you survived Ebola, people can still come around you and you can go around other people.
“There are other students [in my community who survived Ebola] that feel that when they go around their friends they won’t be accepted, especially the youth. They are our primary target,”Kromah stressed.
Michael Tarpeh Young, Chairman of the Federation of Chocolate City Youths hailed UNMEER’s approach in working with grassroots organizations.
“This workshop was important as it relates to the global fight against Ebola. I think they [UNMEER] have now come to a major point where we all can unite because over the past time, the communities that have been directly affected, have been excluded from this process.
“Donors have been funding other institutions but those people who are the victims
have been excluded. So I believe UNMEER have embarked on a rightful path to bring together the community leaders that will partake in this Ebola fight. And we learned a lot from this identical workshop. As soon as we have gotten our project endorsed, we will see how best we can eradicate Ebola from our community and nation at large,” Young pointed-out.
TambaBoimah, Director of Community Health Service at the Ministry of Health, was one of the facilitators.
Boimah, who serves as the Pillar Lead for Community Engagement and Social Mobilization at the Incident Management System (IMS) in Montserrado County, believes that communities can play a key role in eradicating Ebola from Liberia if they are properly engaged and involved.
“Everything that takes place, takes place at the level of the community. Most of our mistakes in the past were because we designed programs and just dumped them on the communities, but over time we engaged them and got them involved in the process.
“They have beautiful and wonderful ideas. It is the community members who should take action. We want to encourage and support them to think and act as community leaders. They must not only criticize. They have the right to criticize they have the power in their hands to stop EVD [Ebola Virus Disease]” Boimah concluded.
Dalglish said UNMEER looks forward to receiving innovative projects. “We want to act as a catalyst for Liberian community groups, and build on the skills of community leaders”.