Project R.E.A.D. (Restoring Education After Disaster) is Resources and Outreach for Liberia (ROL)’s after-school/out of school drop-in program that will provide a safe place to keep them off the streets of Liberia, empowering girls through various means, awakening and strengthening their potential, championing them to grow emotionally, physically, intellectually, and economically.
There has been an escalation in sexual and gender-based violence against girls in Liberia. While vulnerable populations often experience higher than normal levels of violence, both as victims and perpetrators, these recent increases are especially troubling. Rape and other traumatic incidents happen quite frequently in Liberia, because there aren’t after school programs, entertainment facilities (movies), or drop-in centers that keep girls off the streets.
Now because of the Ebola epidemic, more children are at risk, because many of them have been orphaned. Although the virus has not infected Ebola’s orphans, they are afflicted by a stigma that has left many of them without proper care and hope for the future. Many Liberian girls find themselves in a similar situation of hopelessness as they are expected to act as women when they are still children. In many communities, engaging boys takes precedence over girls. The young girls become breadwinners for their families, get married at very early ages, or resort to desperate measures to survive.
There is no safe place for girls, where they can talk, be motivated, grow, and discover the importance and the beauty of being a woman. Often times, these girls become victims of rape, which happens to be the number crime in Liberia, and if the girl doesn’t die from her injuries—which is often the case, due to the hospitals’ apprehension to accept hemorrhaging patients since the Ebola epidemic—they are expected to move passed the incident as if rape is a societal norm.
We are raising funds to start the Project R.E.A.D. drop-in center in Monrovia, Liberia. Project R.E.A.D. aspires to be Liberia’s leader in designing and implementing innovative programs to empower, mentor, and guide at-risk girls and girls orphaned by the Ebola epidemic, providing year-round comprehensive after-school programs and activities that support the girls from grades 6 through 12. The programs will focus on tutoring and reading enrichment, mentoring and community involvement, media and library sciences, career development, workshops, and the arts.
GirlSpire is Project R.E.A.D.’s first social change initiative.
Project R.E.A.D. plans on opening its doors in December 2015. To donate to Project R.E.A.D., please visit our GoFundMe page.