On January 16, 2014, in the Jallah’s Town community, 26 year-old Pandora Hodge, the Project Coordinator of Kriterion Monrovia cut the ribbon of her newly constructed office.
Pandora, who was a senior student at the University of Liberia before the Ebola outbreak, majoring in sociology and public administration, is working to create an avenue for college students to prosper in business, through Kriterion Monrovia.
Kriterion Monrovia, a student-based organization, is about “creating space for young people to be able to bring their ideas and develop them,” Pandora stated during its venue opening.
According to Pandora, who has been supported for the past three years by donors including Monrovia Breweries, the Accountability Lab, Spark, as well as the Office of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, she is grateful for all those who have chipped in to make her dream come true.
“Business Start up Center (BSC-Spark) gave us our first seed funding to be able to start this project. William R. Denis has been nothing but supportive from the beginning and of great help. We have a lot of other individuals and organizations who have been supporting us, including Ministry of Health and a few others,” she added.
Also, Kriterion Monrovia not only plans to help young students pitch their ideas into reality, but Pandora and team have the vision of running a very large entertainment cinema. A year ago, Kriterion Monrovia hosted a film festival that successfully showed the world that Liberia’s film productions not to be ignored.
“Our main goal now is to be able to create an art hall cinema where we’ll screen movies where students can work on a part time level. We also have the idea of a film class to help promote their movies. The actual cinema is just a platform where we can use to build other activities for many more young students at Kriterion Monrovia,” she added.
“Now, having [our own] office instead of renting office space here and there, means getting more young people on board. It also means building more activities that will provide more employment on a part time basis for university students. I’m so excited; we all are,” she said happily.
In as much, Kriterion Monrovia hopes to see young people taking ownership and not relying only on the government, Pandora wishes.
“The government cannot do it all, therefore young people should be able to build their own capacity in entrepreneurship, culture and whatever they can do to empower themselves. This is what we want to see young people doing in Liberia,” she further noted.
Meanwhile, Kriterion Monrovia has been taking on leadership with the fight against Ebola. Quite recently they were given funds by ArcheNoVa, a German organization that gets its funds from the foreign ministry of the Federal Republic of Germany.
“They gave ArcheNoVa support to help us. ArcheNoVa cares for people who are in need,” added Pandora.
Richard Holden, the Secretary General of Kriterion Monrovia says Kriterion Monrovia has distributed packages for the Ebola survivors and affected families. Kriterion purchased five motorcycles that enable its foot soldiers to get into remote locations to make sure that no one is missed during distribution.
“We have started distributions and have sent a 30-man surveying team to Cape Mount. Next week, we’re going to Margibi county and rural Montserrado county. Survivors that are not accounted for by government will be found through our surveyors and we’ll move in and give them assistance. We work with the communities and contact all its elders and task force members there to find out who’s affected. We deal with the affected directly in making sure they receive their packages without anyone tampering with it,” Richard added.
Also, Kriterion has a warehouse filled with items to include in its survival packages from cream of wheat, oats, sardines, beans, oil, vita cubes, season, milk, rice and a few other things.
“We spoke with the Cape Mount authorities last week and went to identify the people under quarantine and also the survivors there. And we have been doing this since last week and have over 600 bags of rice and packages to give to these people,” Richard disclosed.