MONROVIA, Montserrado – A non-profit human resource development and capacity building organization, Liberia-Ghana Missions, has paid the tuition and fees for 60 Ebola orphans and vulnerable children in Montserrado.
The disbursement of more than US$9,000 on Friday to 16 private schools, according to the organization’s National Program Supervisor, George Stewart, was in fulfillment of the goals and mission of the organization to provide education assistance to less fortunate children.
Stewart said the initiative also followed a commitment to provide the scholarships upon a request from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, to support the children.
The mission provides scholarships and educational assistance to over 6,000 underprivileged students in more than 500 grades school and several universities, colleges, and vocational institutions in seven counties, including Montserrado.
Executive Director Emmanuel Giddings said the education support is just one of the several initiatives his organization has undertaken to restore hope to people affected by Ebola in the country.
Giddings, who is also the founder and CEO of Alfalit Liberia, a microfinance and adult literacy program, said all their programs prior to the Ebola outbreak were temporarily shut down to provide care and relief services to Ebola victims and communities.
He said now that the outbreak is over, it is important to direct support to children whose parents were lost to the virus and restore their hope for a better future.
“We don’t want to forget what we went through. And for the Gender Ministry to have picked up children who were left behind by one parent or both parents lost in the crisis, to me, that was one of those issues we needed to put at the priority list of our attention,” he said.
He hailed the schools for accepting to enroll the children at the beginning of the school in the absence of being presented any funds.
The Ebola epidemic, which broke out in 2014 in Liberia, is said to have killed an estimated over 4,000 people and left behind more than 3,000 orphans and vulnerable children.
Although the outbreak ended in 2015, hopes of Ebola orphans and affected children getting enrolled in school and having access to basic life essentials has remained a challenge.
Despite the government’s compulsory free education policies, access to some public school facilities by Ebola-affected children is difficult because of long distances.
At the Ministry of Gender, the director for children protection and development, Victoria Zaway, congratulated the mission for fulfilling its commitment to support education for the 60 children.
Zaway said a total 8,699 children in Liberia were made orphans and semi-orphans (lost one parent) by Ebola. She said the acceptance of the Liberia-Ghana Mission to pay for the educational needs of 60 of them was commendable.
“We have been touching each and every one of them since 2014, on a regular basis to make sure that they are there in their families; to make sure that they do not go into institutions because we know that institutions (orphanages) are not the best place for children,” she said.
According to her, most families providing care for Ebola-affected children have complained that keeping the additional number of children in school while also supporting their own children was becoming challenging.
Zaway said the Inter-Religious Council had also offered scholarships to another group of 224 children, while over 8,000 are still out of school.
She called on other organizations to help provide educational support to the children.
Featured photo courtesy of Evelyn Seagbeh