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DRC opens women’s centre in Liberia

Source: Danish Refugee Council (DRC) - Denmark - Wed, 12 Feb 2014 12:39 PM
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Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

A new women’s centre in a refugee camp in Liberia has been set up and is ready to deal with different women’s issues. DRC has identified different challenges faced by females – and they will be addressed in the new centre.

31st January 2014 marked the official inauguration of the Women’s Centre or Foyer des Femmes in the DRC managed Little Wlebo Refugee Camp, Maryland by the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Ambassador Deborah Ruth Malac. The centre will be a free space for the female population of the camp – and the construction of the U.S. funded centre was recently completed.

“Along with being a dedicated space for women’s issues, it will host a range of activities including a day care facility for children of teen mothers to enable them to attend secondary school, literacy classes, small scale livelihood activities, life skills and reproductive health training,” says Martine Villeneuve, Country Director for DRC Liberia.

Other activities in the joint project, targeting the younger girls, include female leadership training and human rights awareness. The centre is very much needed in the camp.

“We have identified some of the challenges faced by girls and women in the refugee camp and hosting communities in accessing education, including cultural and socio-economic prejudices, gender disparities and lack of resources to fund educational facilities,” says Stiofainin Nic Iomhaird, Camp Manager for DRC Liberia.

Responding to the needs raised by women in Little Wlebo Camp and the border communities; the U.S. Refugee TAFT Grant has also enabled DRC to construct a 6 room community school in Saywonken serving the three communities of Debleken, Nikpachilu and Saywonken in remote and underserved areas of Maryland County. The community contributed their labour to prepare the mud bricks and assist with the construction of the school, DRC installed a water pump and toilet facilities for the school building and a MoU was signed with the MoE to provide three teachers for the school.

DRC has been present in Liberia since 1998. Today, in addition to managing the Little Wlebo Refugee Camp in South-East Liberia, DRC works in 50 communities. While early projects implemented during the emergency primarily addressed life saving assistance, today the organization is focused on the future with a view towards development, strengthening community-based protection mechanisms, improving livelihoods and building capacity for state actors.

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