14 November 2017

Liberia: Girl Smile Initiative Begins 'Touch a Life Campaign'

I dream of a Liberia where everyone will have equal access to basic needs such as healthcare, education, food, clothing and shelter, says Ms. Karzerline A. Johnson, one of the two founders of Girl Smile Initiative (GSI), a charitable organization carry out humanitarian work targeting underprivileged children in Liberia.

Johnson and GSI co-founder, Anngreg C. Natthas, have launched their "Touch a Life" campaign, through which they are identifying with the less fortunate by providing humanitarian assistance to them and thereby buttressing government's efforts in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #1, which says that eradicating poverty in all its forms remains one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Too many people still struggle to meet the most basic of human needs, lacking access to adequate food, clean drinking water and sanitation, the two women lamented.

As part of the campaign, GSI last Friday visited the 'Mission of Hope for Disabled' in Jacobs Town, Rehab Community, Paynesville, where they distributed food items and sanitary materials to several of the physically challenged residents.

"We are so happy that we can be of service to our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers who are in need," said the GSI founders who are alumnae of NAYMOTE Young Political Leadership School Semester IV. They strongly believe that the future of women in Liberia can only improve with sustained investment in women and girls through education, mentoring and providing them with other needed assistance.

"Nothing makes me feel better than helping those who are in need. I believe that the world becomes brighter if we accept and love everyone despite their condition or background. It was not something easy to see young people of my age spending their entire life in wheelchairs. But reflecting on my life as a human has encouraged me to do more for my friends in need," Ms Natt said.

For Ms Johnson, "disability is not inability. The people out there are beautiful, unique, and special. We did not go out there because we want to paint ourselves to the public; we were there because of passion and love. I dream of a Liberia where everyone will have equal access to basic needs, healthcare, education, food, clothing, shelter, etc. It is about time that Civil Service Organizations (CSOs) focus more on the well being of the most disadvantaged groups in society who are the youth, women, girls and children."

One of the GSI directors presenting the first set of donated items to a representative of the disabled.

Annie Sieh, the deputy director of Mission of Hope for Disabled, who received the donation, thanked the GSI leadership for the kind gesture and appealed to other institutions and citizens to identify with the mission. Director Sieh explained that the mission is currently self-supported and only operates a high school, for which they depend on raising funds to cater to the needs of the hundreds of physically challenged individuals in their care.

She said the mission is transforming the lives of the disabled by keeping them away from begging and roaming the streets and instead providing an opportunity for them to become educated and productive citizens.

According to the two passionate humanitarians, Natt and Johnson, GSI envisions a nation where everybody will have equal access to clothing, food, quality education, shelter, and good healthcare. While demonstrating what they preach, the GSI founders and their group are urging other civil society organizations to be more concerned about the well being of disadvantaged and underprivileged people in the society, including the disabled. They disclosed that GSI has targeted 1,500 persons in several orphanages in Montserrado, Margibi and Grand Bassa counties to benefit from their donations.

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