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NGS QUARTERLY

BRIEF
April - June, 2020

FROM THE NATIONAL GENERAL


SECRETARY/CEO
 
Greetings,
 
On behalf of the YMCA of Liberia, we bring you greetings in these very challenging times. The deadly
Coronavirus continues to affect many parts of the world. In Liberia, there have been over 1,000 confirmed
cases and over 70 deaths from the Coronavirus. The situation is challenging for a developing country like
Liberia; where health services and livelihoods opportunities remain weak. However, based on our previous
experience with the Ebola outbreak, Liberia has maintained a relatively low infection rate as compared to
other countries in the region.
 
To mitigate the spread, the Government of Liberia imposed several measures in March 2020. These
included: the closure of borders, schools/training centers, religious centers and entertainment centers,
among others. The key messages of social distancing and proper hygiene continue to be emphasized. A State
of Emergency was declared in April 2020, with curfew hours enforced for most part of the day. These
measures led to the suspension and closure (in some cases) of YMCA Youth Centers and activities. While
most staff were working from home, we had to work from office on select days to continue providing
essential services to the communities, with a new focus on health promotion and peacebuilding. Our staff
and volunteers were trained to create awareness in communities, but also to keep safe and ensure the safety
of people under their supervision. We remained engaged with the Ministry of Health and the National
Public Health Institute of Liberia to train our staff/volunteers, provide updates and approved IEC materials
for awareness in communities.
 
Though some of our activities were halted or delayed during this period, many activities continued in the
communities and we were able to add few initiatives in response to the effects of the Coronavirus as well as
create awareness in communities. As such, we are glad to provide information on the progress being made
at the YMCA of Liberia. This builds on our update from the last quarter of 2019 and covers the period from
April 1, 2020 – June 30, 2020.
 
Here are some of the things that we achieved during the quarter under review in line with the pillars of our
Strategic Plan:
Youth Empowerment
Our programs continue to be far-reaching and making impact in the communities we serve.
 
The USAID Funded, Community Dialogue for Conflict Reconciliation Project has completed its 4th cycle with
an intake of 1,060 community members from 6 counties participating in the Community Based Sociotherapy
(CBS) sessions. Participants have gone through 15 weeks of group socio-therapy activities and facilitators
continue to support local authorities to mediate various forms of disputes, while participants are now
resolving longstanding conflicts in their respective families and communities. The end of the 4th cycle,
brings the total number of people reached so far through CBS to 5,116 (46% males and 54% females). A new
batch of 1,680 participants is being recruited to form 112 sociogroups across 8 locations (14 groups per
location). During the period, there was no activity from the school peace clubs, since schools were closed due
to the Coronavirus. Though there was no Community Leaders’ Forum held during this period, community
leaders under the banner of the CDRP led community exercises aimed at creating awareness and mobilizing
community members to respond to potential health hazards and risks. During the period, CBS facilitators
voluntarily conducted awareness sessions on the Coronavirus in addition to safety sessions in their CBS
groups. This project is implemented in communities along the Somalia Drive and Todee District in
Montserrado County; Totota and Gbarnga in Bong County; Sanniquellie in Nimba County; Zwedru in Grand
Gedeh County; Tubmanburg in Bomi County and Foya in Lofa County.

 
ZOA and YMCA Liberia continue to implement the Peace building and Reconciliation through Community
Dialogues Project aimed at strengthening social cohesion and civic trust in five counties, with funding from
SIDA. During the period under review, the project suspended its CBS sessions and there was no activity with
peace clubs since schools were closed. However, community leaders were constantly engaged by YMCA staff
to play key roles in raising awareness in their communities. Through the project, community leaders in all
project locations appeared on live radio talk shows to raise awareness, speak about some of their work and
mobilize community residents to take actions for their health and safety. The project also printed almost
1000 copies of IEC materials for posting and distribution in project locations. This project is implemented in
West Point in Montserrado County; Kakata and Unification Town in Margibi County; Ganta and Yekepa in
Nimba County; Robertsport and Sinje in Grand Cape Mount County.
The Liberia Country Program, funded by Cities Alliance through Slums Dwellers International, is focused on
profiling and slum upgrading. The YMCA community development partners, Federation of Urban Poor Savers
(FOLUPS), is supporting mobilization of communities through women-led savings groups and also monitoring
ongoing construction projects in selected slum communities, based on approval by the Community Upgrading
Fund Board of Cities Alliance. These interventions, however, are on a lower scale due to the COVID-19
outbreak. In order to support the Government’s awareness and engagement efforts to alleviate the virus,
FOLUPS, with support from the YMCA Health Coordinator, is providing awareness support to its members;
and also encouraging community dwellers to fully comply with the Government’s COVID-19 regulations to
avoid the further spread of the virus. In order to leverage on existing resources, Cities Alliance has agreed to
integrate some actions for COVID-19 responses in communities that we serve. Additionally, the Federation is
currently conducting a COVID-19 assessment initiated by Slum Dwellers International (SDI) in three
communities (West Point, Peace Island and Clara Town) in Liberia as an initial step for community level
interventions. 

The Media Resource Center in Ganta, Nimba County, funded by USAID through Internews, ended its funding
period on June 30, 2020. During the period of the project, which started in January 2018, 4,662 people accessed
the facility. 86% of them were males, while 14% were females. Participants included: 508 journalists, 3,240
students, 196 CSO members, and 718 community members. 149 of these people visited the center to do
assignments, 220 to do research, 480 to browse the Internet, 220 to edit reports and documents, 1,015 to do
typing tutorial and 2,160 to learn how to use the computer. In the last quarter, the project also reached over
40,000 people with Coronavirus messages by conducting community awareness sessions, stakeholders
engagement activities, radio talk shows and jingles through 4 community radio stations. The radio stations
also cover parts of Grand Gedeh and Bong Counties, as well as the Republic of Guinea. Community
engagement activities targeted marketing places, banking halls and parking stations, among others. The
Ganta YMCA will continue to manage the running of the center on a smaller scale and maintain some of the
less costly activities, while we seek further funding to continue the center.
           
During the past quarter, the YMCA Youth Power Spaces were closed. However, staff and volunteers under the
youth power space implemented COVID response activities funded by the YMCA of Greater Toronto - Canada.
The staff were trained by the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute to conduct COVID
awareness activities across the project locations. The activities were done through peer education and the
electronic media, using phones, social media and radio. Assorted hygiene materials and supplies were also
distributed to communities and IEC materials were printed for distribution. A total of 627 people were
reached directly in these locations, while thousands of others were reached through the media campaigns.
The YMCA Youth Power Spaces are currently established in Monrovia, Kakata and Gbarnga.

Through the Civil Peace Service Project, funded by Bread for the World – Germany, the YMCA trained 8 young
facilitators to lead sessions on COVID-19 in their communities. These facilitators were initially trained to
support peace building activities in schools, but due to the Corona outbreak and the closure of schools, they
were redeployed to raise health awareness. They conducted community sessions on perceptions and facts
about COVID-19, reaching 527 people in 4 cities. The project has also produced over 1,000 facemasks for
distribution to communities. Activities under this project are implemented in Monrovia, Kakata, Gbarnga and
Ganta.
 
During the period, The YMCA of Liberia signed a grant with Habitat for Humanity, with funding from the
OPEC Foundation for International Development. The agreement is to implement a project on Peace Island
titled, ‘A Decent Place to Live: Slum Upgrading and Expanding Affordable Housing in Greater Monrovia.’
Under this partnership, the YMCA is developing management/sustainability plans and providing awareness
support to increase access to portable, clean and safe drinking water, increasing access to adequate sanitation,
increasing hygiene awareness and enabling local governance of the water, public toilet facilities, and also
ensuring proper disposal of waste through identified waste collection systems. Under this project, 25 health
promoters have been recruited and trained by the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute
of Liberia. These health promoters have reached a total of 726 community residents. The project will also work
with community leaders and structures to develop sustainability guidelines and measures for public facilities
constructed with funding from HFHI. To this end, a Community Project Management Committee has been
established, with clear Memorandum of Understanding as well as an orientation training to build their
capacity in supporting the project.
Also, during the period,the YMCA received funding for emergency response from Y-Care International based
in the UK. The funding supported the training and deployment of young people in communities with IEC
materials to conduct health awareness. 10 youth were trained to manage the YMCA COVID-19 call center. The
center reached out to a total of 1,944 people through phone calls. During the phone calls, young facilitators
discussed issues on perceptions VS facts about COVID-19, supporting home learning for children, domestic
violence and psychosocial support for people living with fear or doubts about the virus. The project also
procured about 200 bags of rice, vegetable oil and other non-food items for distribution to disadvantaged
groups: elderly people, disabled and orphans.

YMCA Liberia
COVID-19 call
center

YMCA branches across the country also took initiatives in contributing to the fight against Corona, using
manpower and resources from their social enterprise programs. Young people were mobilized to serve as
peer educators. Each YMCA worked closely with their local authorities and health structures to obtain
training, IEC materials and access passes for staff and volunteers involved with the response. In Margibi and
Bong Counties, over 60 staff and volunteers voluntarily conducted awareness in the communities. In Lofa
County, the YMCA donated 12 sets of protective personal equipment (PPE) to the only hospital in Zorzor
district. In Montserrado County, the YMCA is part of the National Youth Task Force on COVID response,
where they have distributed about 2,000 bags of rice to vulnerable youth populations. In Grand Gedeh, the
YMCA is part of the human rights monitoring group of CSOs, where they have been monitoring and
reporting the activities of security forces during the state of emergency as well as reporting and following up
on sexual and gender based violence issues.

During the period, the YMCA Computer Training Program was closed due to the Corona outbreak.
Meanwhile, we are continuing the process of finalizing the requirements for granting of a license by the
National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE) in order for the Polytechnic to begin enrollment as soon
as schools reopen. Similarly, all schools under the YMCA School System were closed during the period. Our
camp at Todee continues to provide program services to communities in Todee District. Also, agriculture
activities at the camp resumed during this period, with the planting of vegetable crops, which are being
harvested and sold on the Liberian market as part of our diversified income generation initiatives. We are
also engaging partners on investment into Camp Todee for agriculture, vocational training and eco-tourism.
 
In all of our activities, we are ensuring safety measures for staff and participants by ensuring hand-washing
services, social distancing and avoiding activities that bring a large number of people together. At the start of
every meeting/activity, our staff do Coronavirus awareness sessions and engage participants on their
knowledge and/or perception of the virus and its effects on their communities.
Resource Mobilization
Despite the challenging economy and limited access to capital funding options, we continue to take little
steps in our Social Enterprise ventures. The YMCA Polytechnic College, YMCA School System and the Todee
Youth Camp Agriculture Initiative remain major parts of this strategy. Progress on these initiatives have
been stalled due to the economic situation in the country and the dwindling of donor grants to support
these. Due to the cases of Corona Virus in Liberia, these services were closed. However, minimum agriculture
activities continued at the Todee Youth Camp with planting of vegetables.
 
Last year, we launched a campaign to raise funds for the renovation of the David N. Howell Memorial
Building (our headquarters). We have a goal to raise US$150,000.00 to do major renovation work - re-roofing
of the entire building, building of an annex structure with additional restrooms, renovation of the multi-
purpose gymnasium as well as replacing some electrical and plumbing fixtures, modernizing the external
façade of the building’s front view and repainting the entire building. Work is ongoing as funds are being
raised. We are happy for the new partnership with Great Ball Players, a group of former basketballers who
were trained at the Monrovia YMCA, now based in the United States. The group is interested in raising funds
to help renovate the David N. Howell YMCA Building on Crown Hill.

We are also grateful to YMCA veterans, former staff and volunteers based in the United States, who have been
contributing to a fund organized by them to support the YMCA fundraising campaign. A full listing of
contributors and amounts will be shared at the end of the year to appreciate those who supported us this
year. We encourage all others who believe in the YMCA’s vision of empowering young people to support this
initiative. Our team is also launching a US$1.00 campaign (or its equivalent in Liberia Dollars) to support
our facilities development and expansion efforts. All citizens at home and abroad are encouraged to make a
minimum contribution of US$1.00 to support the YMCA. On August 10, 2020, the YMCA of Liberia will be
celebrating its 139th anniversary. Please make a generous gift to this institution or support the US$1
campaign to enable us reach more young people across Liberia.

Membership is available online and on paper, making it accessible to the public. Have you taken your
membership or have you renewed your membership since you last took one? Please visit our website at
www.ymca.org.lr or our social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter to follow the link
and sign up for membership. Alternatively, you can obtain a paper form from the closest YMCA or call
0886510638 or 0778498687 and someone would be glad to help you.
Organizational Development
We are grateful to all members of our local and national boards for their service and commitment over the
period. We want to use this medium to encourage all members that are interested in the forward march of the
YMCA, have a passion for youth development and can commit their time, talents and treasury to provide
direction and leadership for their local branches to apply for positions or membership on their local board.
This is a unique opportunity to provide stewardship in advancing our mission – I hope you can take the
challenge.
Our board and staff leaders are very concerned about the cases of Corona Virus in Liberia. From the onset of
the outbreak in Liberia, the YMCA of Liberia developed a Risk Assessment and Contingency Planning
document to guide our actions in navigating the effects of the pandemic on our country and the institution.
During the course of the last 3 months, some tough administrative measures had to be taken and greater
efforts exerted aimed at ensuring that the organization remains resilient to the shocks of the pandemic, while
also remaining relevant to our communities. Many activities at our centers were closed during the past
period, except for training, engagement and response activities on COVID-19.
 
We are pleased to note the support of the World Alliance of YMCAs through the YMCA Solidarity Fund, which
helped to support core staff and operational costs during the period under review. The support from the
World Alliance was immense in ensuring that the Liberia YMCA remains alive during this period, when all
other sources of locally generated revenue was closed.

Closing
The State of Emergency and curfews have been lifted in Liberia. We are now observing the public health laws
with key actions to include ensuring social distancing, avoiding large crowds and wearing of face masks,
among others. With this, YMCA centers around the country will fully open on August 3, taking into account
all of the health measures.
 
We are grateful to the Government of Liberia, our members and supporters, the leadership of local
communities and all of our partners who support us to reach people and communities across Liberia. As we
go through this challenging health emergency, we encourage everyone to observe the safety measures put in
place by the World Health Organization and their respective governments. Liberians are resilient people; we
have been through a chain of civil wars, the worst Ebola outbreak in history and economic hardships. We can
defeat Corona.
 
It is in anticipation of situations like these that the YMCA of Liberia set for ourselves an ambitious vision of
being a strong and resilient movement that is self-sustaining and delivering quality socially relevant
programs to the young people of Liberia.
 
 
Yours in His Service,
 
 
E. Timotheus Kamaboakai
National General Secretary/CEO