Making the disclosure, Equip’s senior program manager of the organization Emmanuel Kimen said the organization’s permanent field office in Promised Land community in Bopolu City, Gbarpolu County, will enable the organization to work in 80 communities in that western part of Liberia.
The first phase of the program is supported by USAID through Mercy Corps, Kimen said. The establishment of the organization’s field office in Gbarpolu County brings to six the counties of operations. The other five are Nimba, Bong, Margibi, Montserrado and Sinoe.
At the same time, Kimen has disclosed that Equip-Liberia has completed the payment of cash transfers in Nimba and Margibi Counties to Ebola-affected households. Equip-Liberia, with funding from TearFund UK, is also carrying out the cash transfers in Ebola affected households in Montserrado, Nimba and Margibi Counties under the program, Educate to Eradicate Ebola.
According to the organization’s senior program manager, 96 households have benefitted in the two counties, with payment in Montserrado County ongoing. “The beneficiaries have started their businesses as a result of the cash transfer program. The beneficiaries are excited, appreciative, most of whom almost lost hope because their livelihood sources collapsed during the Ebola situation and they have been struggling and worrying about it,” he said.
He indicated that with Equip-Liberia’s cash transfer intervention, Ebola survivors had been able to regain self-dignity and were capable of saving funding for themselves through the establishment of small businesses they had been taught by Equip-Liberia to do.
“Right now, a lot of them are now able to help their children, send them to school with income that they get from their businesses. They are appreciative and they continue to send thank you messages to Equip-Liberia and independent monitors that go into the field from our donor community.
“These are families that were affected in different forms and fashions. Some of them are survivors; some are foster parents, taking care of Ebola orphans.” Moreover, Equip-Liberia’s finance manager Gobah Zunuwala said the cash transfer was intended to rebuild the income capacities of the beneficiaries to be sustained rather than just depending on handouts from people.
“In Nimba, we disbursed the total of L$765,000, Margibi County L$867,000. The payment is still ongoing in Montserrado County, but we have already disbursed 357,000 bringing the total to L$1,989,000.
“This cash transfer is important because it is not only benefiting the beneficiaries, but it is another way of infusing more money into those counties’ economy,” he said. Zunuwala further noted that the first phase of the project that lasted for six months was basically providing immediate food and nonfood assistance to Ebola affected households, orphans, and people affected greatly by the deadly disease.
“We have the total of 150 beneficiaries and we divided those items and cash according to the severity of the crisis in those areas. In Nimba, we have 45 households, Margibi 50, and 55 in Montserrado County.”
Equip-Liberia is also running four programs other program aimed at helping Liberians. Those programs include Church and Community Empowerment, Access to Justice and Social Protection, Water Sanitation and Hygiene and Community Health.
“Equip-Liberia is running an integrated project, which means we are not just doing health. We are doing WASH as well. We are also carrying out the rehabilitation of wells and construction of wells. As we speak, the WASH team is busy in Margibi County with the wells,” explained Executive Director Roland Suomie.
Suomie noted that the mission of the organization was to help Liberians for safer, healthier futures while empowering churches and communities through health education and justice interventions to make lasting transformation.
Equip-Liberia is a local Christian-based, non-governmental relief, health and social welfare and development organization working with community and church funded programs since 1999. The organization is currently operating in Nimba, Bong, Margibi, Montserrado, Sinoe and Gbarpolu counties.
By Reuben Sei Waylaun