By Paul M. Kanneh
A local capacity building organization, GonetAfrica has delivered training in handicraft skills and business development for persons with disabilities in River Gee County. The training exercise took place on March 13, 2023 in Fishtown, the capital of River Geed, and was sponsored by The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Environment Protection Agency (EPA.
About 30 physically challenged people from Glaroe Freetown and Sackor communities benefited from the training. Visional impaired, deaf, speech impediment, and other physically challenged people are the main targets for the handicraft skills and business development training taking place near the Grebo-Krahn National Park (GKNP).
Making opening remarks, the President of the River Gee Disabled Association, Philip Sajtoe appreciated UNDP for thinking about the people with disabilities. He encouraged fellow participants to take advantage of the training. “This is an opportunity not only for Glaroe District, but the entire River Gee Disabled Association”. Philip Sajtoe noted.
GonetAfrica Training Coordinator, Elvin S B. Dahn said the training will focus on weaving and crocheting, adding, the training will enable participants to make table clothes, socks, blouses, hats, country lappas, etc. At the same time, he said participants will learn how to start and manage a handicraft business. “We are not here to share money, but we are here to share knowledge. If you learn what we will teach you, it will benefit you for a lifetime,” said Alvin Dahn.
According to GonetAfrica Training Consultant, Abraham Billy, the capacity building training was designed to address key issues affecting forest governance and sustainable livelihood identified in the needs assessment report that was conducted by EPA with funding from UNDP in October 2021. Billy explained that the training will not only build capacity in handicraft skills and business development, it will also develop financial proposals for beneficiaries to receive small grants from UNDP to start their own businesses.
The Founder and CEO of GonetAfrica, Mohammed Kerkulah said the training in handicraft skills and business development is aimed at providing alternative livelihoods for residents near the park, especially people with disabilities and their caregivers. He said that capacity building of people with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups in handicraft skills and business development will promote behavior change, establish economic and social incentives for sustainable forest management, and contribute to the reduction of poverty among people with disabilities. “This training is expected to enhance the social and economic empowerment of people with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups for inclusive development and sustainable forest management,” Mohammed noted.
In October 2021, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), UNDP conducted an assessment on the needs of People with Disabilities (PWDs) residing near Protected Forests, specifically the Grebo-Krahn National Park. The assessment concluded that residents near the Park are hugely dependent on the forest for livelihood. The assessment observed that most disabled people living near the Grebo-Krahn National Park depend on remittance for survival. It recommended handicraft skills development for the empowerment of people with disabilities near the Park.
GonetAfrica is a registered Non-Governmental Organization in Liberia that focuses on capacity building for individual and institutional productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness. The organization provides everyone the opportunity to learn and contribute to Africa’s transformation and global development agenda.
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