Finn Church Aid (FCA) hosted a high level delegation from Finland last week, including two former ministers Ms. Elisabeth Rehn (Defense) and Ms. Heidi Hautala (International Development & Ownership Steering Issues). The visiting delegation represented FCA-run networks of experts in education and women’s entrepreneurship.
Culmination of the visit in Liberia took place on Saturday, when the delegation met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Discussion with President Sirleaf brought up various topics of the state of Liberia and how international NGO’s like Finn Church Aid can contribute to its development.
Teachers from Finland
President Sirleaf shared her concern about inadequate resources in education sector and lack of qualified teachers in Liberia. At the same time, Finland is internationally known for its equitable and high quality education system and outstanding teacher training.
Executive Director of Finn Church Aid (FCA) Mr. Antti Pentikäinen confirmed FCA’s commitment to support development of education in Liberia.
“In Finland we have created a network called Teachers without Borders. The network consists of hundreds of teachers who are willing to help in developing countries. FCA is planning to bring the first voluntary teachers from Finland to Liberia this year“, Pentikäinen explained.
Finn Church Aid supports the strong entrepreneurial spirit of Liberian women
This was not the first time for an FCA-run delegation to meet with President Sirleaf. In 2007 Finn Church Aid invited Finnish women in leading positions to visit Liberia. Being impressed by the resilience of Liberian women they decided to establish a fundraising network – Women’s Bank – for supporting FCA’s work for empowering women in developing countries.
"The entrepreneurial spirit in Liberia is strong. The government is aiming to strengthen business capacities of women and create an entrepreneur friendly environment”, President Sirleaf stated. She said that international NGOs like Finn Church Aid have a crucial role in the economic empowerment of women.
So far Women’s Bank volunteers in Finland have raised approximately USD 10 million to support the livelihoods and entrepreneurship of the most vulnerable women in different parts of the world. Funds are channeled through Finn Church Aid to local partners.
One of the success stories of Finn Church Aid in Liberia is a poultry farm in Margibi County, run by a local NGO, Project New Outlook (PNO). Small-scale egg production creates livelihood and small business to rural women benefiting their communities.
President Sirleaf acknowledged the importance and potential of FCA’s poultry projects. Currently Liberia is highly dependent on imported eggs. Supporting rural women’s livelihood not only contributes to their empowerment but also helps Liberia to become less dependent on imports.
"I am well aware of FCA’s work for the most vulnerable women. My Vice President visited one of the chicken farms supported by Finn Church Aid and brought me eggs!” President Sirleaf told the delegation.
Finn Church Aid delegation met also with SRSG Karin Landgren at UNMIL as well as the Minister of Education Etmonia David Tarpeh.