On this page as our regular slot, Profile Of The Week we feature one of Liberia’s most respectable women; her nationalistic role and contributions over the years to bringing dignity to her motherland, Liberia.
Madam Rosana Schaack, a humanitarian and philanthropist has been around for a long period of time contributing to the rapid growth and development of her dear nation, Liberia.
The Executive Director of a local NGO, Touching Humanity In Need of Kindness (THINK) is involved with advocacy and activism on Human Rights, especially Women and Children’s Rights also aimed at working with women and girls following a comprehensive survey conducted to find out those war experiences women and girls got during Liberia’s sense civil war.
Her passion to help women and girls in Liberia was a result of an American, Dr. Shana Swiss who came to Liberia in 1994 to gather information for an organization, the Women’s Right International which she worked with at that time.
After hearing the awful stories from women and girls in displaced camps, communities around Monrovia, Market Women and high school girls in and out of school, Madam Schaack said she felt compelled to do something to restore hope and advocate for the rights of women, girls and children many of whom were child soldiers and were both perpetrators and victims of the civil war.
She said she first worked as Project Coordinator for Calvary Chapel Liberia doing rehabilitation for child soldiers. When that project was over, our profile of the week also felt there was a need to continue working with the former combatants and got two younger women in her Church to join her in the establishment of her NGO, THINK developing interesting programs.
She said during the infant age of THINK; monitoring and evaluation of what was being done included a questionnaire and focus group discussions with five categories of women and girls.
During these focus group discussions, it was noticed that women and girls were willing to talk about their experiences. Being concerned about the plight of these women and girls future, THINK under the watchful eyes of Madam Schaack developed another survey questions that were culturally acceptable and conducted the survey in Monrovia and then when the fighting forced us to run to Ivory Coast for refuge, we regrouped and were able to access women and girls from Greater Liberia and from Monrovia that had fled as refugees prior to our entering.
She noted that the findings of the two sets of surveys (1994 – 1997), were presented to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2008, making reference of two stories in particular that prompted her to do something to provide rehabilitation of child soldiers and women and girls affected by the civil war in Liberia.
She said one was from a young woman that joined one of our focus group discussions in a market and the other was from a 18 year old girls in Ivory Coast that had been taken from a check point line from her grandmother and taken to live with the rebel fighters for three years. This young lady she said was forced to cook human flesh, watch killings and other horrific things. She was rescued by West African Peacekeepers and helped to cross the border from Liberia into Ivory Coast.
THINK was founded by three Liberian women to advocate for the rights and well-being of women and children in Liberia and opened a Rehabilitation Home for girls and young women associated with the fighting forces in October, 2003.
The THINK Rehabilitation and Empowerment Home now caters to war affected adolescent girls and young women with various social problems such as victims of trafficking, survivors of gender based violence, commercial sex workers and girls separated from their families because of war.
The home provides shelter, protection, medical care, psychosocial support and counseling, academic classes using the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) curriculum, vocational skills training (Pastry making, food preservation and catering, Tailoring, and Cosmetology), life skills training including Reproductive Health, awareness about HIV/AIDS, prevention and response to GBV, conflict resolution and peace building, parenting and child care for under-five children of 10 of the girls.
Madam Schaack said this home accommodated 25 girls and 10 of their under-five children. She said each cycle of girls stayed in the home for nine months. The impactful thing about THINK Liberia is the fact that its success is visible in the transformation in the lives of its many beneficiaries.
Madam Schaack said she attributed this impact to the fact that she was able to plan interventions that would help women and girls because I had first hand information and interaction with the target population and knew the culture and traditions so that our approach would be culturally accepted. Being available to the beneficiaries and involving the communities in some of the interventions are helpful as well.
Due to her hard work, she received the 2012 Vital Voices Human Rights Award, and on June 6th 2015 A New Dimension of Hope hosted the first LOOP Award Ceremony in order to celebrate the works of Rosana Schaack.
Due to all of these contributions to humanity, GNN has resolved to name her as our Profile of the week. Check on us next week for another profile.