Most residents of rural Liberia are greatly benefiting from the gracious intervention of the Foundation for International Dignity (FIND), giving them better understanding and insight of governance, rule of law and other related issues that have to do with how government works and their rights as provided in the constitution.
FIND, with funding from TrustAfrica and Humanity United, has been engaged with efforts aimed at building the capacity of rural dwellers to enable them engage their national leaders whenever they are not performing to expectations, and to give them the bastion to advocate for themselves.
The group said the essence of engaging rural dwellers has many angles, but primarily is to give them the opportunity to speak for themselves, speak out on issues that tend to shape their community, society and life.
On Wednesday, FIND's National Program Officer, Roosevelt Woods, held a press conference to provide an update on their current engagements with rural dwellers and what they hope to obtain from reaching to the people in faraway places, who have got no immediate access to national issues. FIND, he said, is more or less focused on how it can build the capacity of rural dwellers to give them their own voices to speak out on issues that affect their daily activities.
"In October 2008, the Foundation for Human Dignity (FIND) entered into agreement with TrustAfrica based in Senegal along with Humanity United based in California, USA, on a project, 'Let's Act Together' an integrated action for empowerment of rural communities," this is how he introduced their program activities in the rural parts of Liberia, specifically the Southeast.
Under the program, FIND is to train rural dwellers, as a means of building their capacities and empowering them and above all advocates for developmental issues, promotion of human rights and many others. Besides these cogent reasons provided, FIND says it is working to equip rural dwellers so that they can take their own destiny into their hands.
As part of the ongoing efforts to educate rural dwellers on developmental issues, issues that have to do with improving their environment, FIND said it has been holding series of 'town hall consultative meetings' in Sinoe, Grand Gedeh and Grand Kru Counties.
"The purpose of these consultative meetings along with the project is to understand the problems of the people, to get to understand their needs and major developmental priorities, and to understand, to some extent, government is trying to address some of these problems," Woods told newsmen.
He said in May to June 2008, they conducted several round of activities in a palava hut discussions, with the view of confirming or repudiating most of the issues that were raised during previous interactions. The consultative meetings were attended by stakeholders, meaning county authorities, community base organizations (CBOs) and community opinion leaders while ordinary people such as students, elders and market women attended the palava hut discussions.
During the consultative meetings, he said rural dwellers raised the issue of governance, domestic violence, rule of law, land tenure, accountability and many others.
"The reason of these palava hut discussions is to find from these people whether the issues raised during the consultative meetings represent their desires and aspirations, the FIND's Project officer said. In continuation of the project, FIND has once again planned series of training activities in the Southeast, particularly in Sinoe, Maryland, River Gee, Grand Gedeh and Grand Kru Counties, targeting 20 participants per training section.
FIND intends to begin the training from August 22–26, 2009 starting from Juarzon, Sinoe County and move to Zwedru, Grand Gedeh for another training program on August 28–29, 2009.
Following the Zwedru training, the organization said it would move on to Fish Town, River Gee, Pleebo, Maryland County and then land in Barclayville, Grand Kru County beginning from August to September 14-15, 2009. FIND is one of the local non-governmental organizations that is advocating for human rights, good governance, rule of law and sustainability of peace.
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