GFC Provides Life Saving Skills to Teenage Mothers

first_imgGirls For Change Executive Director, Mrs. Ora Barclay Keller.Having the cognizance that adolescence is a vital stage of growth and development when young people are intensely influenced by their peers and the outside world, Girls for Change (GFC) Executive Director, Mrs. Ora Barclay Keller said.She says her organization, since 2013, has been keeping sleeves above elbow to provide lifesaving skills to teenage mothers and nurturing them to form a positive self-image, manage emotions, build relationships, strengthen social skills, and deal with peer pressure.Mrs. Keller added that adolescents at this stage are more prone and vulnerable to high risk, especially considering the fact that more than half of Liberia’s population is under 18 years.These alarming stats are further compounded by the availability of limited opportunities for education, training and employment, which render this age group particularly vulnerable. It is this situation, Mrs. Keller said that GFC is working to address with the requisite support from those who believe in Liberia’s future.She spoke in a exclusive interview with this newspaper on Monday, May 20, 2019 at her Thinker’s Village office.Mrs. Keller said that GFC is prepping these young women, most of whom dropout of school by providing scholarships, health clubs in schools, training and awareness on teenage pregnancy, early childhood development for teenage mothers’ children, while they are in school and mentoring.According to her, this initiative grew out of the realization that many young women who dropped out of school would go back but not stay in school because there are no facilities to cater to their children while they are in school.It is based on this that the GFC began running their childhood development programs to provide care for these kids to sustain their mothers in school. “This allows the mother to be settled in school and pay attention to her studies, because her child is being taken care of at our child development center,” she said.“Most of the girls we are providing opportunities for are victims of sexual abuse and some got pregnant while in school. Retaining them in school is a primary concern for us. We saw a gap in the lack of a safe environment for those children to play and learn,” Mrs. Keller said.Besides taking of these children while their mothers are in school, GFC saw the need to educate teenagers on reproductive health as the surest way to prevent teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and the consequence of getting pregnant while still seeking primary education since there are not courses in schools to provide such knowledge.During school vacations, beneficiaries of GFC scholarship program and other community residents are encouraged to attend skills training activities such as tailoring, graphic design, knitting of African slippers, painting that would keep them busy during vacation.Mrs. Keller said that more than 500 teenage mothers and their children have benefited from the organization’s programs. Some of the students who completed the training are being used as ambassadors to teach their peers about the importance of healthy living, prevention of teenage pregnancy and peer-to-peer coaching.GFC is a women’s rights non-profit organization committed to transforming society and supporting women/girls affected by all forms of violence.The self-supported civil society organization, which operates within Montserrado, Bong and Lower Margibi counties with focus on supporting teenage mothers, less fortunate girls and under privileged and marginalized youth through the provision of scholarships in formal and informal education.GFC expertise provides a holistic trauma-sensitive and empowering approach to survivors of sexualized and other forms of violence and to service providers and stakeholders.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Solís administration backs down from bill to reinstate shrimp trawling

first_imgFacing opposition from lawmakers and pressure from environmental groups, government fishing authorities pulled a controversialshrimp trawling bill from the legislative agenda last week. If passed, the bill would have reinstated shrimp trawling in Costa Rican waters.This marks the second attempted return of shrimp trawling in the Legislative Assembly since a Constitutional Court (Sala IV) ruled in 2013 that the damage caused by the fishing practice violated Costa Ricans’ right to a clean environment. The court order banned the government from renewing trawling licenses unless new technology could limit the incidental capture of non-shrimp species — known as bycatch — and make the practice more sustainable. The last active licenses are set to expire in 2019, without legislative action.The Bill for the Development and Sustainable Exploitation of Shrimp in Costa Rica was drafted and submitted by the executive branch, which declared the bill a priority for consideration before the close of the extraordinary sessions at the end of April.In an effort to comply with the Sala IV ruling, the government put 32 sustainability criteria into the bill, and proposed new studies to assess the shrimp population. Trawlers that meet the criteria would be allowed to renew their licenses, and the number of available licenses would be determined by the studies.Government officials who support the bill say it is a crucial step in fighting widespread unemployment on the coasts.“A big step for this government in the fight against coastal poverty, ecological damage and democratic access was going to be to develop regulations for shrimp fishing,” said Gustavo Meneses, the president of the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (INCOPESCA).According to fishing industry leaders, before the ban, shrimp trawlers employed as many as 360 people.Despite the executive’s enthusiasm for the bill, lawmakers from both the National Liberation Party (PLN) and the Broadfront Party (FA) refused to consider it, citing environmental concerns. According to Meneses, the Solís administration pulled the bill in order to renegotiate with lawmakers before resubmitting it. The administration still hopes to push the bill through before the close of the legislative session.In addition to lawmakers, environmental groups and several traditional, small-scale fishing organizations have also come out against the bill in recent weeks.“In our opinion, pulling the bill was necessary,” said Viviana Gutiérrez, political manager for the Costa Rican branch of the marine conservation organization, MarViva. “It shows that the bill did not have any viability, technically or politically.”Marine conservation NGOs that oppose the bill point out that most of the sustainability measures listed in the bill were already required for shrimp trawlers before the Sala IV ruling. The other requirements — like the use of fish excluder devices and depth restrictions — have not yet been studied for effectiveness.Studies to evaluate their effectiveness do not yet have funding, according to the bill.Opponents have also taken issue with the year-long roundtable under which the bill was created. While the roundtable initially included environmental groups and small fishing organizations, they had all dropped out by the end of the dialogue.Following their exit, two fishing groups filed an ethics complaint against the involvement of Vivienne Solís, the president’s sister, in the talks. According to Meneses, her place at the talks was due to a previous contract between INCOPESCA and her environmental development NGO, CoopeSoliDar. The contract preceded the election of Solís’ brother Luis Guillermo Solís to the presidency in 2014.In the eyes of the government, the roundtable was a success. Not only did the discussions produce a bill, Meneses said, they also gave the government a venue to discuss other projects like ocean zoning and converting shrimp trawlers for some other kind of fishing.“In this process, we involved so many different people,” Meneses said. “It is an injustice that the lawmakers did not have the decency to consider a bill that actually involved the people affected by it.” Facebook Comments Related posts:In Search of Sustainable Seafood in Playa Grande Small-scale fishermen team up to better protect coastal, marine resources New bill could bring shrimp trawling back to Costa Rica – depending on whom you ask Fishackathon invites conservation-minded techies to help solve overfishinglast_img read more