Even as the coronavirus pandemic terrorizes the world, there’s another global emergency that child protection and child safeguarding organizations can’t afford to abandon.
The virus seemed to be moving from slow to fast, as the effects of the crisis becoming impossible for most NGOs to ignore. Children are more vulnerable than ever.
But there are still reasons to be hopeful – this week, SOS Children’s Villages Liberia, Save the Children, and Plan International joined forces to support the government in the fight against coronavirus.
“There are parents who are affected and are held at the COVID-19 isolation center located at the 14 Military Hospital along with their children and there are a lot of debates about what to do for them. Whether to separate them from their parents who are already affected or to provide support while they are with their parents. Why these debates are ongoing, the joining forces for children can’t wait,” said Augustine A. Allieu, SOS Children’s Villages Liberia National Director.
“We thought that these children require immediate relief, care, and support while the health experts and authorities are thinking about medium to long term solutions for these children,” he lamented. Mr. Allieu said the joining forces for children has gathered food items, educational materials, hygiene kits, toiletries and toys and games for the children and their caregivers, adding “we are collaborating under the psychosocial pillar of COVID-19 response, which is led by the Ministry of Gender Children Social Protection.” Mr. Allieu maintained that joining forces for children would like to do more to ensure that more children are protected from harm and abuse, especially at this time. He made the statement at the office of Madam Mary Broh, the head of the COVID-19 Response task force.
For his part, Mr. Joseph Yarsiah, Country Director for Save the Children Liberia said there is never been a time when a child lives at risk than this particular moment. “We came together to provide supplies for at least two months, this is an initial contribution. We also envision if the crisis escalates we will lobby to get more supplies,” he noted.
Mr. Mohamed Kamal, Acting Country for Plan International In Liberia used the occasion to thank the government, NGOs, and the media for the level of support in responding to the COVID-19 threat. “As international organizations, our work is to support the effort of the government. This is while we are here today,” he added.
Receiving the items on government behalf, Madam Mary Broh, Head of the COVID-Response Taskforce thanked SOS Liberia, Save the Children and Plan International for the collaboration. “SOS Children’s Villages has been around for some time now and they have produced some of our country’s brightest talents, some of which are in government today and contributing to society,” she noted. She appealed to the media to also follow the work of the NGOs to know what they are doing. “I know what many of these international NGOs are doing, like SOS Liberia because many of them were our strong partners during the Ebola outbreak. Their work is unprecedented,” says Madam Broh.
The Ministry of Gender Children Social Protection (MoGCSP) Minister, Mrs. Wilhelmina Piso Saydee-Tarr also expressed her gratitude to the Joining Forces For Children alliance for their collaboration to support the children of Liberia through the ministry. “We can’t focus on a certain segment of the population and forget about another group,” says Minister Tarr. “While it true that older persons are mostly affected by COVID-19 disease, children are also very much affected in several ways. They need our care and support now more than ever before”, she said. The minister used the occasion to outline some of the areas of collaboration and support provided by SOS Liberia to youth, children, and their families in communities, the psychosocial support pillar of the COVID-19 response and the Ministery of Gender, Children and Social Protection. She noted that it was not the first time, her ministry has been working with SOS Liberia and other partners. “We are really grateful, this is not the first time to received support we been doing things together,” she added.
SOS Liberia Collaborates with MoGCSP to build the capacity of 40 social workers:
It can be recalled, last week SOS Liberia Collaborated with MoGCSP to build the capacity of 40 social workers for effective social work and psychosocial support to vulnerable children during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The SOS Liberia and MoGCSP’s latest partnership was geared towards building the capacity and providing support to forty (40) social workers to effectively respond to COVID-19 threat toward vulnerable children and their families in the communities.
The forty social workers’ capacity was strengthened in psychosocial support and child safeguarding during emergencies. The five-day training for the forty social workers was held at the Ministry of Gender Children Social Protection from April 20-25, 2020. The capacity building for the forty social workers is part of SOS Liberia, the COVID-19 Incidence Management System (IMS) and the MoGCSP strategy to protect vulnerable children against COVID-19.
Joining Forces Alliance:
Joining Forces is an alliance of six leading global child-focused organizations working with and for children. The organizations are ChildFund, Plan International, Save the Children International, SOS Children’s Villages International, Terre des Hommes International Federation and World Vision International. The Joining Forces Alliance currently focuses on two work streams: Child Rights Now! A campaign that focuses on Ending Violence Against Children as well as the unfinished agenda, which says it is time for the global community to fulfill the broken promises of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UN CRC).
Written by: Joseph Joboe, SOS Liberia Communications & Brand Coordinator