Imani House: A Charity Helping Children and Families in Africa
EBOLA CRISIS IN LIBERIA: AN UPDATE
Prior to the Ebola crisis, our clinic provided mainly child and maternal health in the form of vaccinations, pre and post natal care, wound care, treatment of infectious diseases, etc. Since the onset of the crisis we still offer the same services , but in specific response to it we have begun out reach to areas surrounding the clinic informing communities of the importance of getting tested for Ebola if symptoms are present. Other information we cover is proper care of sick relatives, handling of deceased Ebola victims and other outreach aimed at removing the stigmatization Liberians have regarding the disease.
Our main reason for doing this outreach is to quell the fear and tension regarding the disease so instead of being afraid of the help Intl. NGOs are offering, citizens actively seek it out if needed. We were going to seek support to open a quarantine/ treatment ward in our clinic, but recently at a community meeting facilitated by Imani House, the majority of participants (about 100 or so) informed our staff that they did not want an Ebola treatment center anywhere in the vicinity. After the incident in West Point and the resultant violence we had no choice but to yield. Therefore our work has consisted of outreach, education and referrals. We have also purchased limited protective gear for distribution to communities (masks and gloves), and also began distributing bleach and other sanitizers to areas adjacent to the clinic.
Until recently (because of the lack of resources), our Ebola education and distributions have been limited to the towns and villages immediately surrounding the clinic but it has been very instrumental in encouraging community members to respond differently. Prior to that their were several incidents of communities locking families in their homes, if they had a member die from Ebola or it was suspected that a member had the disease. The infected were being broken out of treatment centers by their families, or the infected fled their own communities for fear of stigmatization and traveled to other places, thus spreading the disease. While actual treatment of the disease is of utmost importance, being able to get community members to actually seek treatment is another matter all together. Therefore in our eyes education becomes the primary concern and focal point.
We have been able to gain support through our Global Giving campaign from individual supporters, and Global Giving also donated to our Anti-Ebola campaign from their own Ebola fundraising efforts. In addition we have been chosen to partner with USAID by way of their LEPP initiative, which donates surplus U.S. Government supplies, equipment and other to worthy organizations Worldwide. Donations received through this initiative will go to our general clinic operation and also aid us in our fight to educate Liberians about Ebola. American Jewish World Service has also joined us in the fight making a donation towards our efforts which will allow us to expand the scope of our outreach to cover areas hit hardest including Duala, Caldwell and New Kru Town; purchase protective gear for our clinic staff and community members at large and assist us in purchasing transportation for our outreach workers.
Inspite of all the assistance we have received so far we expect to require much more as the situation in the country escalates. Not only are Liberians fighting for their lives against this deadly outbreak, but food and other shortages are becoming all too apparent as Liberia’s’ neighbors have shut their borders and inter-country commerce has come to almost a complete standstill. With the majority of local health care facilities closed, Imani House has become one of the last vestiges of hope. We expect an overwhelming influx of patients needing a variety of healthcare services soon as they have no where else to go.
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Health, Education and Hope
Imani House is an international charity for children and families that gives hope for thousands every day in Liberia, a country on the west coast of Africa.
The lives of many mothers and children have been saved through the practical medical care provided at Imani House’s facility near the capital city of Monrovia, and that just scratches the surface of what we do…
But perhaps the most remarkable thing about this place that helps 17,000 Liberian mothers and children a year is how we got started.
It’s a story unlike any other you have likely heard about how a non-profit was born.
Meet Bisi Iderabdullah.
Bisi Ideraabdullah at a fundraiser for Imani House in the early 1990’s
A soft-spoken, dignified lady, she says her drive to start Imani House was born out of “rage.”
While traveling on vacation in 1982 with her family in Charleston South Carolina, Bisi was a young mother pregnant with her fifth child.
She went into labor and went to a local hospital. Even though her water had broken and she was in the late stages of labor, she was turned away, refused all medical care.
The reason given?
She did not have insurance.
They desperately drove to another hospital, time ticking away.
She lost the baby.
Bisi vowed that this should never happen to another mother and child.
Bisi and her husband Mahmoud had been successful business owners and activists in Miami.
Out of this devastating experience, they decided to make a fresh start and move with their children to Liberia.
Imani House programs have existed in Liberia since 1985.
What started as a small school with only 2 students in addition to their own children which has blossomed into a full-scale program combining medical care with educational and skills training for the people of Liberia.
“Imani” is the name that Bisi and her husband had chosen for their daughter who was lost that fateful day.
Let’s look at the ways in which Imani House’s programs help people in Liberia:
Health and Education
There is a continued fundamental need for our projects in Liberia. Despite the many positive changes that Liberia has seen since the end of the civil war, it still ranks among the top twenty nations with the highest rates of child and maternal mortality in the world. UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children (2010) stated that the child mortality rate (under 5 years) was 100 deaths per 1,000 live births. The World Health Organization (estimates that in 2007, the maternal mortality rate was 770 deaths per 100,000 live births. Yet, the amounts of health services available to reduce these numbers remains comparatively low. A 2007 survey referenced by the UNDP and Global Fund (2010) found that only 10% of communities had a health facility in their neighborhood. These statistics are reflected in the rates of skilled health professionals who are in attendance at births; in urban areas 79% of all births are assisted, but in rural areas that figure drops to a staggeringly low 32%. By offering and maintaining our Clinic, which provides pre- and post-natal care, education and support to pregnant women, and continued support for the local midwives, we serve an important role in assisting in the reduction of these numbers.
In addition, according to 2010 UNICEF statistics children in Liberia still lack many of the essential health services that are required for survival. Of all the children with diarrhea, it is estimated that only 50% receive the adequate oral hydration and continued feeding as treatment. The Imani House Jahtondo Town Maternal and Child Health Clinic provides integrated health services for women and children, as well as immunization programs. By partnering with the Ministry of Health and other governmental agencies and NGOs we have strengthened our capacity to administer health care services. Our staff participated in the Ministry of Health’s massive Polio Vaccine eradication campaign, spreading out into the farthest points of Brewerville and the Po River District to vaccinate 3,025 people against polio. The Global Fund graciously donated medicines and supplies in the past, while the National Drug Service continues to monitor and donate drugs to the clinic. Students at the Tees Girls Nursing School have apprenticed under clinic staff to gain first-hand experience.
Sick patient receives an IV at Imani House Clinic
The Imani House Liberia Adult Education Program provides free reading, writing, civics and math classes each year to over 190 Market Women who attend our free literacy classes four days a week. Classes are held in or adjacent to the some of the largest markets in the capital city; the indoor Rally-Time Market and St. Mary’s School in the open air Duala Market.
Building women’s literacy skills and self-reliance is at the core of Imani House’s mission. Women as the reservoirs of their families and communities are important to the nations development. When we educate one woman – help her build her Literacy skills, she can improve her business practices, support her family, prioritize education for her children, and make rational decisions regarding the direction and leadership of the community and country.
The national rate of illiteracy in Liberia is over 68% according to a report commissioned by the Montserrado County Development Agenda. A 2007 Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund report states that a survey conducted by a Liberian consulting firm in 83 markets where women work, showed that approximately 50% of the 204,000 Liberian Market Women serve as heads of households, yet have no formal education. With an average family size of six to eight children, and no literacy or civic skills, it is hard to imagine that the cycles of poverty will be broken for the children.
Imani House, plans to expand our Literacy programs throughout Liberia as resources become available. A literate population, especially among women, is essential to the development of a country.
Imani House Adult Education Students
Teen Peer Education Project
This program trains Liberian female students to present health awareness information. We go directly into the Public School classrooms where we are given one class period to interact with girls and boys and talk on topics including: the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases; care of their bodies and reproduction rights along with the use of various protection mechanisms, abstention, family planning, and other topics of interest to them relative to their futures. This year IHI offers Peer Led classes in 3 schools; Vonzon Elementary, Isaac Tondo, and Daniel E. Davis.
Mrs. Annie Coleman RN, the head nurse at the Imani House Clinic in Brewerville, started the program because as a health professional, she recognized the detriments that teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and gender and sexuality based violence have on the development of Liberia. Rates of teen pregnancy are high as are the rates of rape and other forms of gender-based violence – largely as a legacy of the violent civil war – so education in these areas is crucial to the overall health of Liberia.
Works with women and girls enrolled in our Adult Education classes. The majority of our students are market women. In an effort to improve their ability to earn a livelihood, Imani House began offering Sewing Classes with assistance from a grant from Friends of Liberia. This project works with 50 students per year teaching them pattern making, pattern reading, tailoring and associated tasks. As funding becomes more readily available the Vocational Training Program will grow to provide other types of training to better enable students to increase their earning capabilities.
Imani House is a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity and 501(c)3, a registered USAID PVO for over 10 years and has worked hard in Liberia for close to three decades.
Some other projects we need your support for include:
- Renovation of a building at our Jahtondo Town site to serve as a main facility for our Adult Education Classes & Vocational Training- fundraising goal-$2,000
- Provision of gas for our generators at our existing Adult Education sites. $25 will provide electric at one site for a week
- Purchase of literacy supplies (literacy books, pens, pencils, papers, etc.) for our Adult Education students. $50 will allow us to purchase enough supplies to cover 10 women for a month
- Acquiring supplies for our Vocational Training Project. $100 will allow purchase of enough cloth, patterns, thread and other to accommodate 25 students for a month
- Covering transportation for our Teen Peer Educators to go to various schools to facilitate workshops. $75 will cover transportation costs for 3 Peer Educators for a period of 3 months
Imani House Liberia Partners
- American Jewish World Service- Funded Imani House’s projects in Liberia for close to 8 years. Inspite of discontinuing funding in 2012 , AJWS once again recently sponsored our agency to help us in our fight against the Ebola virus in Liberia.
- Global Giving- by way of a Global Giving fundraising campaign Imani House was able to receive support from individual donors for our Liberian Projects. Recently Global Giving also made a donation from their general Ebola Fund to help us in our work against the deadly virus.
- USAID LEPP Initiative- Imani House was recently chosen to partner with USAID under their LEPP initiative. This program donates surplus U.S. Government equipment and supplies to worthy organizations Worldwide.
- Liberian Marketing Association- Administers all market spaces in the country and has collaborated with Imani House to bring our Adult Education program directly to the market places.
- Sirleaf Mark Women’s Fund – has showed a high level of commitment in working with Imani House and has been instrumental in assisting our Adult Education program in locating space in several Monrovia Market Places.
- Liberian Ministry of Health- collaborates with Imani House to train and certify lay midwives. The Ministry also monitors and donates drugs through the National Drug Service of Liberia to our health care facility.
- Proliteracy International – Imani House has represented Proliteracy on the ground in Liberia since 1985. They are the creators of Literacy for Social Justice and many of the materials that we use in our program.
- The Global Fund- donated medicine and supplies for our health care facility.
- The National Adult Literacy Association of Liberia – Imani House is a member of this Association, which serves as an umbrella organization for local NGO’s Literacy programs.
- Alphalit- Reprinted Laubach Way to Reading Adult Literacy Books, with permission from Proliteracy. Alphalit donates copies of the new “Africanized” literacy workbooks to Imani House for our Adult Education classes.
- Plenty International – Has been advising Imani House regarding the installation of a solar well pump similar to the ones they have installed in Belize. Plenty is also working with Imani House to locate and outreach water and sanitation funders.
- Tees Girls Nursing School — This school offers training for Nurse’s Aides and Imani House allows some of their students to apprentice at our clinic as interns so that they can gain experience.
Help Bisi and Imani House Save Lives Today!
Although Bisi Iderabdullah and her organization have undoubtedly saved countless lives in their nearly three decades of service for the people of Liberia, much more remains to be done.
Families are still in dire need of medical care and the additional dignity that comes from knowing how to read. Malaria, polio and other deadly diseases continue to take their toll and the help of Imani House is vital for tens of thousands of people.
Urgent Funding Crisis!
Help Bisi Keep The Dream Alive!
For many years, much of Imani House’s funding came from a major U.S. foundation. However, in these tough economic times, as of December 2013, this funder has chosen to redirect and cut back on its support of Imani House.
Sadly, this has meant cutbacks in Imani House’s staff in Liberia.
But Bisi, her family and the Imani House community are committed to KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE in these tough economic times.
Your generous contribution makes a meaningful difference in keeping alive Bisi’s vow to protect mothers and children.
As Gandhi said, “Be the change you seek.”