As the corona virus outbreak has progressed from an isolated epidemic to a globe-spanning pandemic, SOS Liberia is collaborating with the Ministry of Gender Children Social Protection (MoGCSP) and other partners to contain the spread of the virus.
The SOS Liberia and MoGCSP latest partnership is geared towards building the capacity and providing support to forty (40) social workers to effectively respond to COVID-19 threat toward vulnerable children.
Forty social workers capacity is 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.
Strengthening the capacity of forty social workers in psycho-social support and child safeguarding is part of SOS Liberia, the COVID-19 Incidence Management System (IMS) and MoGCSP strategy to protect vulnerable children against COVID-19.
Also part of the collaboration are Carter Center, Ministry of Health as well as Liberia Association of Psycho-social professionals, who provided the facilitators for the training. The collaboration is formidable, partners are sharing information and mobilizing to collectively combat the COVID-19 pandemic with all due speed and the necessary resources available. SOS Liberia for its part provided safety gears and hygine kits to the trained social workers. It is also expected that the SOS Liberia FS families and youth will be direct beneficiaries of the work of the newly trained social workers.
Receiving the items on behalf of the Ministry and collaborating partners, Deputy Minister at MoGCSP Mrs. Lydia Mai Sherman thanked SOS Liberia for the collaboration. She maintained that SOS Liberia is always there when they are needy by the Ministry. “SOS Liberia is a strong partner to the Ministry. They never let us down when we call upon them,” she added. Mininster Sherman noted that SOS Liberia collaboration in the COVID-19 response is timely. She lamented “if we are to defeat the virus, partnership with both private enterprises and non-profit organizations is necessary.”
SOS Liberia National Director, Mr. Augustine A. Allieu thanked the social workers for their services, especially at this crucial time. He said SOS Liberia is glad to partner with the government through the Ministry under the new psycho-social pillar.
“SOS is an international NGO working to safeguard children and provides protection to children in both normal times and times of emergencies. We see it necessary to support the fight against the coronavirus,” says Mr. Allieu. He maintained that SOS Liberia will effectively support the psychosocial pillar to reach out to more vulnerable children and families. “I am currently working with some International NGOs including Plan International and Save the children amongst others in order to support the psychosocial pillar, which is coordinated by MoGCSP so that together we can Join Forces to reach more vulnerable children that are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak,” Mr. Allieu noted.
THE IMPORTANCE OF COLLABORATION IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19
As of April 2020, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) has reported an increase in coronavirus cases. NPHIL has confirmed 101 cases as of 21st April 2020. The virus has led to eight deaths in the country, with the entire country in lockdown. People suspected of the virus are quarantined as well as state of emergency declared. The virus has spread to Margibi, Nimba and Grand Kru counties. Montserrado and Nimba appears to be the higher hit counties.
The risks associated with the virus are dangerous. To defeat the virus will need full support from different actors and stakeholders, otherwise many people will contract the virus and the entire country will be overwhelmed. Currently, it appears that the virus is moving at a speed higher than when the first case was confirmed back in March. Although, in China, the epicenter and South Korea there is signs of the virus being controlled, but in Europe and some part of African new cases are significantly increasing daily. The government of Liberia needs strong collaboration and sincerity to contain further spread of the virus. With the SOS Liberia, MoGCSP, and other partners collaboration, the country can make significant gains.
Many NGOs possess enormous disaster management expertise and knowledge in working in an emergency zone. For instance, during the Ebola Virus outbreak in Liberia, NGOs were working with the government to combat the virus. With over thirty-five years’ experience in child care and safeguarding, SOS Liberia is cardinal in this collaboration. A strong collaboration between governments, and NGOs – demonstrates NGOs commitment and trust in working with government. It is also a sign of reliable friendship.
FOSTERING COMMUNITY-LEVEL ENGAGEMENT AND SUPPORT
Over the last few days, the number of coronavirus infection in Liberia is increasing gradually. Preventing further the spread of the virus requires not just the actions of the government, but support from partners. As the virus continues to spread, the Ministry of Gender Children Social Protection (MoGCSP) relies heavily on partners working in child protection and safeguarding sector across the country for support.
An organization such as UNICEF and SOS Liberia has responded certainly to provide support to the government and people of Liberia. SOS Liberia is effectively collaborating with the Ministry to support prevention efforts in communities as well as provide psycho-social support to children in the COVID-19 withholding centers.
It can be recalled, on April 10, 2020, SOS Liberia has reached out to 210 young people and 212 FS families in forty-two (42) SOS FS communities in and around the Liberian capital, Monrovia. As a major partner to MoGCSP, the organisation is playing a similar role, serving as a key player in developing a child-friendly version of Coronavirus sensitization and awareness material for distribution.
Children should be provided psycho-social support, especially during the time of emergency. They should also have access to accurate information about the virus including health tips from experts so that they will not rely on misleading and inaccurate information from social media and other platforms.
Though, turning the tide on COVID-19 will not be easy this is a task that SOS Liberia cannot give in. According to SOS Liberia National Director, one of the important aspects of preventing the spread of the virus is getting people to change their behaviors. “Washing their hands more often, observing social distancing, avoiding crown and certain types of close-proximity,” he added.
Written by: Joseph Joboe, SOS Communications & Brand Coordinator