American philanthropist Deborah Lindholm, who founded Foundation for Women (FW) to assist Liberian women in business through microfinance, has taken another great leap in empowering young girls in a highly innovative way.
With the cooperation of several caring and God-fearing Liberian women, Mrs. Lindholm has given money to establish the first low-cost high-tech training for Liberian girls. The program was launched last weekend in a place where it matters most, the deprived community of Soul Clinic in Paynesville.
This high-tech school for girls has two well equipped computer labs, replete with Internet and other modern facilities, powered by solar panels to eliminate the high cost of fuel and generator maintenance.
It offers a full high school curriculum to afford the girls the opportunity to complete their secondary education, while gaining much needed computer skills that will enable them, upon completion, easily to find jobs by which they can support their families and continue their education.
The vision for this school, called the F-Sham of Faith Girls Academy, was conceived by five Liberian women to provide a unique opportunity for their students, all girls, to obtain a sound Christian education in order to prepare themselves for good citizenship.
We call on all the girls to make the best use of this great opportunity.
The schools’ founders are Madams Fannie Dunbar Bull, Sarah Kokulo Taylor, Helen Zoe Reed, Aletha Korto Hoff and Mildred P. George.
These women, too, should be highly commended for their visionary initiative in reaching out to these young girls to give them an important lift in their educational sojourn and prepare them to become productive and contributing citizens.
This is a clear indication of the importance of TAKING INITIATIVE. It is a vivid reminder of the slogan popularized by Liberian women who backed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in her 2005 presidential bid: “Women, O Women: Don’t just sit there. DO something positive!”
Had Fannie Dunbar and her colleagues not dreamed of and taken the initiative in 2000 to start this school, who would have paid them any attention? But thanks to their vision and initiative, another visionary and caring women, Debbie Lindholm, came to know about their work and willingly and readily reach out to them with the money to modernize their school and further empower Liberian girls to become independent, productive and contributing citizens.
Madam Lindholm first became interested in Liberia when in the mid-2000s she met another dynamic and caring Liberian woman, Mrs. Emily G. Peal, who heard about Debbie’s philanthropic endeavors and convinced her to try Liberia. Debbie immediately embraced the idea and soon, Foundation for Women was established in Liberia, extending microfinance loans to ordinary Liberian market women in 14 counties, to improve their businesses.
Mrs. Peal, as the first CEO of FW, believed in the vision of the five Liberian women who started the School at Soul Clinic, and gave them substantial encouragement.
We believe it is appropriate at this juncture digress a bit to make an URGENT appeal to ALL Liberian women. You all have heard of the serious economic and financial difficulties our country is facing at this time, 10 years after you worked so hard to motivate Liberians to elect Liberia and Africa’s first woman President.
All fingers are pointing at her today, blaming her and her government for these difficulties, which have translated to severe hardship for us all, but most especially for ordinary Liberians. The drop in the value of the Liberian dollar alone is intensifying the hardship across the board. This drop is due primarily to three factors: first, the failure of our agricultural production; the drop the world price of rubber and iron ore, Liberia’s two most important foreign exchange earners; and the regular and rapid foreign exchange flight from the country, not only by foreign businesspeople, but Liberians as well, some say government officials, too. We understand that one government Minister was caught transferring US$45,000 to a foreign account, causing him to lose his job.
The challenge here for LIBERIAN WOMEN is to sit with their President and level with her on ALL the issues she and the country are wrestling with—the economic hardships; the Liberian dollar’s decline; agricultural failure in this fertile, rain-filled country; the overweening First Family involvement in government; and unabated corruption and lack of transparency and accountability in government.
Liberian WOMEN and ALL of us should know that we CANNOT, MUST NOT allow Ellen to fail. That would mean the failure of Liberian women and us all.
So,” Women, O Women: Don’t just sit there: Get up and DO something positive!”