Over 130 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 initiatives 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 case.
“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 and have 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 to return to school with their friends, so we are looking for projects that will provide them with support,” he said.
Dalglish said UNMEER will be providing funds for a variety of projects, including training for local women on health promotion; a music program or installing a polystyrene tank on top of a primary school.”
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 and youth organizations in Montserrado County not having bank accounts, funds will be received on their behalf by a registered organization, he said.
Dalglish lauded Liberians for their character demonstrated since Ebola paralyzed the country in July 2014.
“Liberia is a strong country with a very strong President. I am from Canada and what I have learned is about the courage, resilience and determination of Liberians. The world,” he said, “should thank them for stopping this disease. As a country, you deserve the Nobel Peace Prize,” Dalglish added.
He 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”.
The workshops brought together 159 participants from 133 local CBOs, most of which had never attended a meeting at a United Nations office or 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,” said Tenneh Kromah, executive director of the Community Youth Initiative (CYI) of Monrovia.
The CYI was established in 2013 with its programs implemented by voluntary contributions from its officials, Kromah said. She hoped 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 survive 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. These are our primary targets,” 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 UNMEER has now come to a major point where we all can unite because in the past, communities that have been directly affected were excluded from this process,” said Tamba Boimah, director of Community Health Service at the Ministry of Health and one of the facilitators. He serves as the Pillar Lead for Community Engagement and Social Mobilization at the Incident Management System (IMS) in Montserrado County.
“Everything takes place at the community level and 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,” he said.
“They have 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.