The Uncommon Man

May 19, 2008

MRI in Liberia: Reacquainted

May 19, 2008: Reacquainted

We arrived at the IRC office on the first day greeted by warm smiles, finger-snapping handshakes, "welcome back," and hugs (one for each cheek). So many now familiar faces.

Most of the day was spent with the GBV leadership team, Gertrude Garway - national coordinator, Ester Karnley - advocacy manager, Musue Oberley - Montserrado county program manager, Musu Mulbah - Nimba county program manager, and Joseph Ballah - Lofa county senior program officer. This was the first time (in our experience) that this team was only Liberian nationals. There was much for us to catch up on.

The IRC approach in Liberia is now moving from "post-conflict" to "reconstruction," and the GBV prevention strategy is shifting from service delivery to social change. The GBV staff has been reduced from about 60 to just over 30, as the emphasis is increasingly on supporting community-based groups to take over services and activities. The Male Involvement Project has been integrated into the overall "community development" dimension of the program (with five female and four male staff).

Even as they navigate all of these changes, the spirit of the GBV program remains strong. They have created new women's and men's action groups in two additional communities in each county, bringing the total number of WAG/MAG teams in Liberia to fifteen. And in many communities these groups are developing collaborative activity and initiatives for awareness-raising and economic development.

For lunchtime, we joined a group of "ex-pats" (from Kenya, Pakistan, Spain and other places) working for IRC who were going to an Indian restaurant. Their lives are filled with stories of working for a range of NGOs in countries all over the world. Such different perspectives than the Liberians working in the GBV program!

In connection,
Steven Botkin

To read all Liberia entries in chronological order and to see photos from the trip, click here.

Posted by Malcolm Chu at May 19, 2008 11:29 AM

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