Activa International Insurance Company (Lib) Limited (AIIC) didn’t know the level of impact it would make when the company, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, decided to invest US$20,000 in women and girls’ empowerment with livelihood skills that would make them economically independent.
Women in Sustainable Enterprise (WISE) trained women in vocational skills and assisted de-traumatize victims of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties while reintegrating them in their communities.
This investment, which was made through WISE, provided a six-month pilot project which is on course to forever change the lives of 59 rural women devastated by the EVD in two of the worst affected counties.
The pilot project, which was implemented by the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), ended over the weekend in Western Liberia. An elaborate graduation ceremony was convened for the beneficiaries who lauded AIIC for the support that now enables them to have “a second chance” to make their lives meaningful and productive.
The keynote speaker was AIIC CEO, Attorney Saye D. Gbalazeh, who described WISE as “a fruit of hope, hard work and an outreach for independence.”
He said the occasion provided hope, courage and emboldened the aspirations of the women. “It brings me tremendous joy to be a part of this ceremony marking the successful completion of training for the Ebola affected women. Throughout my life, I have been inspired by people who have the passion to help others attain their chosen goals and improve their lives.”
Atty. Gbalazeh spoke on the theme: “Why Sustainable Enterprise is Important to Women’s Development,” which, in the concept document of WISE, the framers summarized the anticipated impact of the program on the lives of widows.
He said from the onset of the project, it was circumscribed by grief because of the havoc of Ebola, “but we are here today to celebrate a post-Ebola event which was made possible by committed and visionary people and the cooperation of our women, who are determined to put the sad past behind and take their destiny into their own hands.”
This idea of investing in capacity building was conceived by well-meaning corporate citizens comprising of businesspeople with a focus on bottom-line profit-making.
“They were selfless enough to take the decision of spending some of their resources on a philanthropic program.
“No doubt, we were fired up by trust that the project to a degree will alleviate poverty and bring some relief and comfort to the people adversely affected by the Ebola epidemic in this area,” Gbalazeh added.
By giving back to the people, the Activa Group became the lead (insurance) organization among its peers, to establish a “cooperative model for development of our mothers, who have been compelled to become breadwinners for their families after the Ebola scourge took away their husbands—their traditional breadwinners.”
“This endeavor was embraced by women with innate potentials, who are resolved to support each other in developing and utilizing a range of skills to improve their living conditions,” he said.
The WISE project was conceived to address the mental health needs of beneficiaries; increase the life chances of children affected by Ebola through the harnessing of their mothers’ potentials of earning income; and to increase the self-esteem and confidence of those affected by channeling their energies into productive use.
All these objectives, Gbalazeh said, “can be summarized as a calculated effort of salvaging our mothers and sisters from the cruel jaws of poverty. The crowning glory of the WISE investment is the psychosocial relief it has provided and the transformation of women from a state of total dependency to a state of self-sufficiency.”
The choice of Madina and Tubmanburg in Cape Mount and Bomi Counties for the pilot project was informed by statistics provided by LISGIS, showing that Ebola left over 800 widows and orphans in the two counties.
YWCA National General Secretary Liberia, Mrs. Roseline Toweh, expressed joy that the first phase of the project has been successfully completed, adding that the objective was to ensure that the beneficiaries get the required skills that will empower them to be self-reliant and self-dependent. She said the beneficiaries now have the opportunity to make ends meet from the skills they have acquired.
AIIC is a Pan-African Insurer that operates in over 35 countries. It occupies the ground floor of the Liberia International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR) building in Sinkor.