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NEWSLETTER MARCH 2015
NIEUW





INTRODUCTION


Our last newsletter was in June 2014, followed by a press release in September 2014. A lot has happened since then. With this newsletter, we would like to bring you up to date. Since March 5, no new cases of Ebola have occurred in Liberia. If this continues, the country will be officially declared Ebola-free in mid-April. (Unfortunately, just last week, we heard that there is one new case. We hope this turns out to be an isolated incident.) We are very proud of our team, that under very difficult circumstances, they were able to contribute to the prevention of Ebola outbreaks in Dabwe Town and six surrounding communities. In the meantime, our regular projects have started again and I will go again to Liberia at the end of April. Remain vigilant is the motto, so we're giving even more attention to hygiene in our projects.







EBOLA

On August 6, a week and a half before we would commence our vocational training programmes and children's club, a state of emergency was declared in Liberia. We were forced to shut everything down. Our team almost immediately began with the small-scale information campaign in Dabwe Town and after a few weeks we decided, when it became clear that the government could not get the disease under control, to extend and intensify the information campaign.
Thank you so much to everyone who donated to our fundraising campaign. We were able to achieve the following:

  • spoke to approx. 7400 people in door-to-door conversations; the team was on the road four days a week to speak to people at home.

  • 21 x showings of an informative film which was attended by 1650 people.

  • handed out 4000 leaflets; in which we also always tried to engage in a personal conversation about the disease and prevention thereof. We were able to put up 3500 posters in consultation with the community leaders at strategic locations (markets, churches, schools, etc.).

  • cultivated a lot of confidence and goodwill, a big success in a country where Ebola could spread so quickly because of the high distrust of the government and organisations.

  • our team became local celebrities when residents from the area recognised them on public transportation and passengers started asking them for information.

  • worked in the CSO Task Force, a collaboration of local Liberian NGOs where we, in addition to the role of secretary of one of the three pillars, participated in an inventory of public health facilities in (the area surrounding) Monrovia.

  • the greatest result is, of course, zero cases of Ebola in Dabwe Town and the six other communities!

At the end of 2014, in the middle of the Ebola crisis, another good result was achieved: Mineke Foundation was designated by the Liberian government as a certified vocational training institute. Of course we are very proud of this, also because later in the labour market, our certificates will be of real value to employers and thus also to our trainees.



RESTART ACTIVITIES


On March 2, the soap-making and pastry chef vocational training programmes started. After two days, we had to close the registration for the pastry chef training programme because there were far too many applications than we could handle.

We have 80 trainees, of which 73 are (young) women.

There is a lot of demand for other vocational training programmes: beautician, hairdresser, seamstress and computer classes. We hope to be able to respond to at least part of these requests next year, but that depends on whether we can get enough funds together.


On March 20, the kids club started with 21 Children. We have room for 50. The kids club, which offers after-school activities such as sports, crafts and music, is an unknown phenomenon in Liberia. Parents are taking the "wait and see" approach. In the meantime, our team has made agreements with the parents and leaders of the surrounding communities on safety, for example (in order to provide volunteers to help children cross the road).

The second half of 2014 was a time we'd like to forget, but the lack of movement has given us incredible confidence from the residents of the seven communities. We are very grateful for that.



FUNDRAISING


Transportation

Already for a number of years, we have not been successful in getting together enough funds to be able to purchase a car for our team and to raise enough to able to cover the costs of transport. We need the car for the following:

  • meetings in the city. We are a partner of the Minister of Gender and Women's Rights and attend the monthly meetings. it is a 45-60 minute one-way trip and public transportation is scarce, with team members sometimes having to wait for 1-2 hours before they get transport.

  • shopping for groceries; fresh groceries at least weekly because we have no power during the day and stuff spoils very quickly in the heat of 35 degrees (dry season). We have no freezer.

  • various appointments in the city: going to the bank to collect money, talks with potential partners and funds.


Generator

We had a little one, which broke down. When it is 35 degrees and there is hardly a breeze, it is unbearable in the small classroom under a zinc roof with 40 pupils. Ideally, we would work with solar panels on the roof, but that is a long-term solution. For now, this must be resolved and we want to purchase another unit to be able to run the fans. Costs: 2000 euros.


Camera

The photos on Facebook and in this newsletter were made using an old iPad because the camera that we had in 2012 did not last long in the humid heat of tropical Liberia. However, the iPad creates blurry pictures when the light is not very good. We would like a Canon PowerShot, which costs 150 euros.

Projector

Another cherished wish of the team is a projector to project the lessons on the wall. We still rent one now, but that is expensive. The costs are 300 euros.

Laptops

Two laptops with good batteries that can run without charging during the day. Our team members, of whom only one has computer skills, can learn these here. Who has one for us?

Cartridges

In 2012, we took a colour printer to Liberia. A golden opportunity, because printing is still very expensive. This time, we would like to take cartridges along. Who wants to donate one? Or two?




DERSWA

Since last November, Mineke Foundation has been cooperating with a number of other foundations from West Africa under the name DERSWA. The cooperation was formed partly to be able to join forces in the area of fundraising and publicity in Europe and the US, and partly in response to the refusal of large organisations to partner with local, small NGOs during the Ebola crisis.



PROJECTS
Vocational training programmes
Our training programmes are very basic, so we like to add things to inspire our trainees. Such as cake, muffin, and soap moulds, who would like to donate a few?

Kids Club
A large pile of colouring pages is coming along, but who would like to sponsor a pack of coloured pencils and crayons? A pack goes a long way with a group of children at the kids club.



LIBERIA TRIP

Very much looking forward to it! I was actually planning to go in October 2014, but that was not possible because of the Ebola outbreak. Many friends and good acquaintances are now back and I want to see them again. In addition, of course, my father, who fortunately is still in good health, our team and our projects. And before you think this is just about meeting people, I will also teach in both vocational training programmes, spend at least an afternoon at the kids club and look into how we can set up local fundraising.



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Our next newsletter will appear in September, however in the meantime you can follow our progress through social media.




This newsletter was drawn up/produced free of charge by Stephanie Teelen (text) and DP Service & Advies (formatting and web production).


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