Africa Philanthropy Support Organizations (APSO) Initiative
Over the past two decades, the number of philanthropy support organizations (PSOs) focusing on Africa has increased. And while they represent different histories, motivations, approaches, and interests they share a common goal in leveraging philanthropy to address issues affecting the lives of communities in Africa. The diversity of PSOs located inside and outside of Africa presents an opportunity to widen the reach of philanthropy. The APSO Initiative recognizes that building strong relationships can help PSOs to deepen their impact and leverage philanthropy resources to benefit African communities.
In July 2015 representatives of PSOs attending a caucus at the Africa Philanthropy Network (APN) conference in Tanzania discussed the value in sharing information and exploring collaboration opportunities. The discussion continued at the April 2016 Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group (AGAG) meeting in the United States and at a follow-up meeting held in South Africa during October 2016. The APSO Initiative is a pilot collaboration and collective effort by the Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group, the Africa Philanthropy Network and the East Africa Association of Grantmakers. The goals of the APSO Initiative are to promote communications among a cohort of philanthropy support organizations working inside and outside of Africa and to highlight the work that these organizations do to promote philanthropy that benefits African communities.
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West Point Intensive Ebola Outreach, Awareness & Adaptation Project (Ebola Intensive Project)
West Point, Monrovia, Republic of Liberia
In 2014, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea faced the largest Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in history. One of the most vulnerable areas in Liberia was West Point, a slum community in the capital city of Monrovia, home to approximately 75,000 women, men, and children. In the subsequent weeks after the Ebola crisis escalated, there was evidence that outreach volunteers tasked with educating Monrovians about EVD, were not properly trained in appropriate behavior and physical interaction once in the field. Additionally, while outreach workers were provided with at least a passing understanding of the general symptoms of EVD, they may have lacked the ability to decide when or when not to make physical contact with persons during their outreach work in the field.
Armed with the knowledge of pressing needs in the field, the Ebola Intensive Project identified a medical team for both training and monitoring of outreach workers. The medical team, headed by a physician trained in infectious diseases, included registered nurses, public health practitioners, and social workers. Additionally, the project worked directly with the Ministry of Health’s EVD tracers to ensure proper reporting to the government. The ultimate goals of this initiative were to:
In addition, the project would provide a limited number of emergency cash grants to families in urgent need or quarantined due to possible exposure to the EVD. Furthermore, the initiative also provided time-limited post-crisis assistance to survivors and orphaned children returning to their communities after being declared Ebola-free.
Once in the field, the newly trained outreach teams educated citizens on how to prevent contamination and infection, correctly identify specific symptoms, knew when to seek medical assistance and other preventive measures. Donors worked with existing grantee partners and other local organizations to provide a rapid and deep engagement within the West Point Community. Partner organizations included West Point Women For Health and Development, Women Movement for Sustainable Development, and senior staff members of More Than Me Academy.
On May 9, 2015, the World Health Organization declared Liberia Ebola- free after 42 days of no new confirmed cases. However, on June 29, 2015, a confirmed case of Ebola was reported in a 17-year-old male who had died in Liberia. Five contacts associated with this case were confirmed to have Ebola, one of whom died. The last two patients were discharged on July 23 after testing negative for Ebola twice. All contacts have now completed their 21-day monitoring period.
West Point, however, remains Ebola-free and members of the project team were recognized for their work in Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year: The Ebola Fighters” piece including the co-designer of the project and Medical Manager, Iris Martor.
President’s Young Professionals Program
Republic of Liberia
After 14 years of civil war and unrest, Liberia’s public and private sectors were left with a devastating human resource and capacity gap. Liberian professionals fled overseas to escape the violence, resulting in an infrastructure was severely compromised or destroyed, and hundreds of thousands left unemployed. The President’s Young Professionals Program (PYPP) aims to rebuild Liberia’s human resources by recruiting, training, and empowering local youth to take leadership positions in the public sector.
PYPP recruits, trains, and prepares promising Liberian college graduates to be the next generation of qualified professionals in Liberia and to assume leadership positions in the public sector. In the short term, PYPP recruits provide support directly to Ministers and Deputy Ministers in the Liberian government by performing a variety of critical tasks. The two-year program also includes a strong training and mentoring component, pairing each young professional with a Liberian Fellow or other mentor within government ministries as well as offering a monthly professional training program, one-on-one instruction and evaluation, and a monthly stipend.
As one of the earliest stakeholders, our feedback led to an expanded orientation period to help recruits build the skills necessary to succeed in their positions. Of the 77 program participants recruited in the first five years, 81 continue to serve in 15 Liberian government ministries and 7 agencies. PYPP recruits have assumed leadership positions in Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Youth Development, and other critical government ministries.The program intends to recruit a new class of 20 participants in 2015, and aims to place 100 additional young professionals in key government roles over the next five years, helping to strengthen Liberia’s capacity to deal with crises such as Ebola.
Charity Prayer Band
The educational challenges facing post-conflict Liberia are immense: lack of qualified teachers, inadequate classroom space, and absence of nurturing learning environments for children. The Liberian civil war decimated the education system and infrastructure was never fully rehabilitated. As families migrate to cities and the number of school age children rapidly increases, school construction and rehabilitation has not kept up with this pattern. In addition, reconstruction of schools has been unevenly distributed; in one daunting example, a community of 20,000 residents has access to only one government operated high school. This forces parents to deny their children an early education or endure a 1-2 hour walk to attend a likely poorly resourced school.
The Charity Community School, one of several programs of Charity Prayer Band, is an accredited school established to respond to the spiritual and socio-economic needs prevalent in the community following the end of the Liberian civil war. Through community-based projects targeting youth, women, elderly, adults, and children, Charity Prayer Band and The Charity Community School have gained prominence in the community they serve. The Charity Community School has existed for two years and operates as a full elementary and partial junior high school. The project aims to:
By improving education in the community and maximizing the utilization of its human resources, Charity Prayer Band and The Charity Community School are helping its constituents become self-sustaining and lead their own destiny.
The Charity Community School currently serves 500 children and adults through its educational services and unique accelerated programs. The school was able to enroll and retain 390 students and built a high school to support expansion. In addition, 100 adults and other disadvantaged groups were able to enroll in accelerated learning programs to gain access to basic education. The school also created jobs for 20 teaching and support staff within the community at competitive rates. Finally, women took on leadership roles within the school and changed perceptions of gender roles in society.