MONROVIA – A new organization named and styled Gracious Givers International (GGI) has been officially launched in Liberia with an aim to seek adequate supports for the provision of a “comfortable environment” for orphans in the country.
The group was launched at a ceremony held in Monrovia on Saturday, November 14.
Delivering the keynote address on the topic “Every Child Deserves a Good Life”, Ms. Faith F. Gray, disclosed that good or better life for every Liberian, is not a privilege but a right of each child that is conceived and born into this world.
She noted that most often, many Liberians failed to give their children their birthright to a safe secure, happy, and good childhood.
She maintained that children are being exposed to danger and unwholesome practices as a result of abandonment, or the lack of adequate support from their parents or caretakers.
“If we take a good and honest look all around us, we see children involved. In most of the income-generating activities in the country, they are found in most of the street corners and high traffic areas plying their merchandise for sales”.
“These activities expose them to dangers and sometimes life-threatening situations such as rape, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, just to name a few, my questions are: “Is this the safe secure, happy and good childhood that should be provided for them? Is a safe, secure happy and good childhood a privilege or a right? I can say it is a right. We must provide each child with a life that they will enjoy and succeed in”.
Quoting the United Nations Convention on the rights of a child, Ms. Gray noted that .a child’s right includes the right to health, education, family life, play, and recreation, an adequate standard of living, and to be protected from abuse and harm.
She added that these rights also cover their developmental and age-appropriate needs that change over time as a child grows up.
She noted that if Liberia must move forward, more attention must be given to child’s development and those issues that are affecting the growth and development of a child must be tackled.
“We must make an affirm decision to adequately provide the low support communication, health, guidance, and a peaceful and calm environment for each child to exist in. We must provide each child with a life that they will enjoy and succeed in. Your background does not determine your future”.
For her part, the Executive Directress of GGI, Mrs. Semedora Wilson Kuitay observed that through child survival and development has improved in Liberia over the years, many children are still not getting the support they need in early life.
According to her, Liberia was still in the process of recovering from a 14-year civil war when Ebola created a new challenge in 2014, killing many children and making scores of others orphans as a result of the deaths of their parents.
She maintained that many children were forced to leave their homes, and those who parents or siblings died were suddenly abandoned.
“This caused Liberia to experience another wave of orphans similar to the one caused by the war. Ebola also created new threat to children, with more challenges”.
Mrs. Kuitay claimed that the Liberian government and other international agencies are “scrambling to respond with arrangements as they try to track down relatives to take in those abandoned children.
Quoting a United Nations Mission 2007 report, the GGI Executive Directress disclosed that, orphanages were suspected of participating in child trafficking, and the chronic deplorable conditions in Liberian orphanages were deemed a cause for major concern.
“The report further indicated that children slept on floors and had no access to toilets. In one orphanage, a locked room with mattresses was reserved for children who wet the bed”.
Giving these challenges facing Liberian children, Mrs. Kuitay disclosed, that a group of nine young Liberian women gave birth to the dream of establishing the Gracious Givers International (GGI) in September 2020.
She disclosed that GGI is a non-for-profit organization that intends to seek support from well-meaning individuals in war-torn Liberia.
“We intend to seek supports for orphans and abandoned children in Liberia and provide humanitarian services; to provide a positive and loving environment through feeding, shelters, healthcare, education, professional and infrastructural development”.
“We want to make sure every orphanage in Liberia, especially the populated ones have not only secondary education, but also professional skills for orphans and abandoned children and to provide awareness and dissemination of information on HIV/AIDS, malaria control program, child abuse, and gender based violence and human trafficking. We are doing all we can in order to make orphans comfortable”.
According to her, the group also seeks to offer academic scholarships and other educational opportunities to children living at various orphanages across Liberia.
Mrs. Kuitay pointed out that GGI is currently working with three orphanages, including the Comfort Toe, UNECO and All Saints International orphanages in the country.
She, however, expressed the hope that with the support of well-meaning Liberians and other groups in the country, the group’s initiatives will be extended to additional orphanages in a bid to help provide “safe haven for our orphans traumatized by the civil war, the Ebola epidemic, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic”.
For his part, Montserrado County District # 9 Representative candidate Fubbi Henries called on government to see reason to provide subsidies to various orphanages operating in the country without fear or favor.
He pointed out that the provision of subsidies to these orphanages with help improve the wellbeing of orphans, and as such, government should not relent on providing the necessary support to children staying at various orphanages across Liberia.
He, however, pledged the amount of US$100 as initiative contribution, and vowed to work with GGI to better the living conditions of orphans in Liberia.