PAYNESVILLE, Montserrado – About 260 women in Paynesville have acquired empowerment in a life skills training program to improve their incomes and family livelihoods.
Participants were awarded certificates on Saturday, after successfully acquiring nine months of training in respective programs from the Vocational Training Program of the Liberia Returnee Network, in partnership with the Reformed Cathedral of Hope.
The women were trained in a variety of fields, including tailoring, baking bread, cake decoration, interior decoration, and soap making, among others. 47 Liberian refugee returnees were among the graduates.
The LRN Executive Director, Tyrone Marshall said the program was aimed at empowering female refugee returnees from the sub-region and vulnerable women in communities with skills to improve their lives.
Marshall said following the influx of Liberians from refugee camps in neighboring countries between 2011 and 2012 presented many challenges surrounding the reintegration. He said it was against this background that the LRN was established to work with government and existing institutions to ease the problems associated with returnees’ reintegration.
He disclosed that the LRN was successful in training some of its members as instructors in various skills that are now helping others to become economically empowered.
“Therefore, the Liberia Returnee Network in its realization of the need for capacity building encourages all to form part of its development drive as a total roadmap,” he said.
Rose Fawaz, a former Liberian refugee in Ghana said that since her return in 2012; life has been a bit challenging for her.
However, Fawaz said with her new skills in beads making, her life is gradually becoming better.
“Now, I am making my own beads in a variety of designs, and people are buying them,” she said. “I feel so good, that I am now making money my own to sustain myself and family.”
Cynthia Yeaney, a resident of Paynesville and graduate of the training, has also praised the organizers for the skills impacted in her.
“I am now able to sew suits and customs in different styles, because of the training,” Yeaney said.
As a single mother and one who has had no previous skills, she hoped that the tailoring skill would help her raise income to sustain her family.
Reformed cathedral founder and general overseer, Rev. George Wesseh Blamo said, coming to the successful completion of the second phase of the training program, amid the challenges was the goodness of God.
He said beneficiaries of the program were required to pay only L$1000 to cover their t. Shirts, ID card and other portion of the material costs. The rest including, teachers’ compensation are paid from his pocket.
“I spent around L$36,000 every month for instructor compensation. So, it was not an easy thing,” he said.
Blamo who is also the Grand Kru County second district representative said, he was led to bring the program to Paynesville when he attended a graduation of determined women from the first cycle of the LRN vocational training program in 2016.
“I was touched by Liberian girls eager to learn and graduate,” he said.
Although sustaining the program from his pocket was a challenge, Blamo said he remains committed to helping those in need as giving is his life.
Serving as Keynote Speaker at the event, Gbeme Horace-Kollie, the Deputy Minister for Operations at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, praised the women for accepting the challenge to acquire the various skills.
She encouraged them to hold on to their personal values and professional ethics as they go on.
“All the skills that you’ve been able to acquire here today never become much more important to you as a person, to your family or to the nation, unless you choose to make it very important,” she said.
Featured photo by Gbatemah Senah