Liberia: Rotary International Heralds West Africa Project Fair in Monrovia with Competing Projects

PAG looks on as Brad Howard, Rotary Board, cuts the ribbon to the project fair. Photo- Courtesy of Daily Observer

Congo Town – The Rotary Clubs in Liberia, in collaboration with its parent body, Rotary international, over the weekend opened the West Africa project fair.

The fair, held at the Millennium Guesthouse from October 10-16 brought together scores of Rotarians and partners of the Rotary club to review series of projects the club has line up to be implemented.

Addressing journalists at the event, the former chair of the Rotary board of directors, Brad Howard, said the project fair was designed to bring together Rotarians from across West Africa to present projects which improve the community and to also bring international partners to discover opportunities for funding.

“So, this event is to create that partners that partnership and interaction,” he said. “It also gives the chance for people from North America to come and see firsthand the needs of communities in sub-Saharan West Africa.”

Howard, who led a delegation of Rotarians from the United States to attend the project, highlighted that projects under consideration are defined by six key focal areas: maternal and child health, disease prevention control, water and sanitation, basic education and literacy, economic and community development, and peace and conflict resolution.

“So those are the broad areas that we look for projects. But what we look for—what I look for—coming from North America, is that I turn to my partners here in Liberia who know the community. And it’s their criteria that become my criteria.

“They do a community needs assessment and we provide recommendations.”

Howard added that sustainability is a key benchmark when projects in the fair are brought up for consideration. “Meaning, a Rotarian can walk away and the project will continue uninterrupted without our intervention.”

Furthermore, he said it must be considered on the basis of the strengths of the local clubs. “The strength of the local Rotarians of what they can provide and what we can provide.”

In Liberia, there are several projects which the Rotary Clubs of Monrovia and Sinkor under district 9101 has undertaken.  They include peacebuilding and literacy, economic empowerment, disease prevention, adult literacy, maternal and neonatal mortality, business development skills to women etc.

Some of these projects have been jolted to life already by funding from partners while others are competing against several projects in the various districts including Rotary clubs from Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra-Leone, Ivory Coast amongst others.

For example, the Rotary club of Monrovia, under peacebuilding and literacy, is endearing to establish a YMCA peace club in every high school in ordr to promote peaceful living and building social relations within communities and to mobilize students to engage in social activities for peace promotions, costs USD$10,000.

Outside Monrovia is the Rotary Club of Sinkor competing also for US$23,996.87 for it menstrual hygiene project aptly titled #OurOwnPads, in order to address the lack of sanitary pads and empowering women initiatives in Bong and Nimba Counties.

And across the border are the Rotary clubs of Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Ghana also competing for funds from several partners, including MTN, UBA amongst others.

However, Howard said the key to funding most of these projects is the availability of funding which can sometimes take a longer time to match. “We come in to look at the project, see what’s necessary and our job is to go find the money. And sometimes this takes one two here years—the larger the project, the harder you can imagine the longer it is to raise the funds.”

The project fair in Liberia was also marred by a series of activities including a ribbon cutting of the fair in the country. Speaking during the cutting ceremony, Past District Governor, Maurice Edorh, told his fellow Rotarians and affiliating partners to take note of the various projects at the separate booths and pick any of their liking.

Welcoming his fellow Rotarians to the county, past assistant governor, Milton A. Weeks, told the audience that Liberia was proud to be the host of the event and the clubs of the country looked forward to working and partnering with sister clubs across the West African subregion.

The Club also paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah and the country office of the World Health Organization as part of its polio and leadership training for its members.

In furtherance, a Rotary Foundation seminar was held for members to deepen their understanding in the application of grants and other funding for their various projects. During the training seminar, district governor emeritus, Yvonne Darko, and past associate governor, Isaac Aninnakwah.

The club also paid a visit to its oxygen plant project at the ELWA Hospital in Paynesville. On Thursday, October 14, it joined the city government of Paynesville to launch the country’s first postwar learning resource center. Another visit was paid at the eye clinic in 72nd, Paynesville.