Adolescent girls in Gborkon Community in Banjor, Lower Virginia, Montserrado County, now have a safe space to do their homework, learn social and leadership skills and increase their knowledge about sexual and gender-based violence.
On December 23, 2020, Sara Beysolow Nyanti, a Liberian United Nations diplomat, dedicated Gborkon Community’s Learning Hut, a major project of her community support mechanism, the Social Movement for Change (SM4C). The SM4C operates under the framework of the NGO that she founded, The Development Brokers.
The concept of the Learning Hut seeks to create a safe place for girls, thus reducing their exposure to rape and other forms of violence against women in impoverished and marginalized areas. Gborkon’s learning hut is the second one that opened in the Lower Montserrado County area in the last six months.
The first learning hut opened in July in Brewerville’s Rainbow Community. Each hut accommodates 30 adolescent girls, ages 10 to 19. The girls will get help with reading, math, science and receive psychosocial counseling on sexual and gender-based violence and other social problems.
Madam Beysolow Nyanti cut the ribbon to the Gborkon Community Learning hut during a ceremony attended by community leaders, youth, and community residents.
The learning huts, she said, are designed to promote girl’s education in post-conflict Liberia. She thanked Imam Aljahi Jaliebah, the Dean Elder in Gborkon Community, for providing the land to build the learning hut.
“You took something that people usually kill each other for to give to your children, our daughters,’’ Madam Nyanti said. “God bless you. All my goodwill would have been nothing without your support.’’
Madam Beysolow Nyanti said the Learning Huts initiative was in response to the growing number of rape cases in Liberia and the need to provide a safe space for adolescent girls.
“We need to take action to help our daughters,’’ she said. “We need to give them a space where they can learn, so that tomorrow they can contribute to the development of our country. We must work hard to help our children, especially the girls. If you educate the girl child, you educate the whole community.’’
She urged citizens to get involved in their communities because that is the only way to effect change. She urged the parents to ensure that their children participate in the center’s activities. She shared that the experiences of the first learning hut in Rainbow Community showed the need for deeper engagement with the parents. Parents need to allow the girls to continue to come to the hut which is available to the girls every day, but the teacher and social worker provide support 6 hours a week. ‘’You need to take ownership of the project,’’ she said. “This learning hut is in response to what you requested for your community. “I did not propose it to you and neither did I force it on you”, she said. You saw what we did in Rainbow Community and you requested the same. Now, let us work together for the betterment of our community.’’
In remarks, Mr. Jaliebah thanked Madam Beysolow Nyanti and the SM4C for their intervention in the community. “Thank you, plenty, ma,’’ he said.
Eric Kiadii, project manager of the Learning Hut Initiative, said the project was successful because the community participated in the design and construction; and will be involved in the implementation. The adolescent girls who attended the event said they were excited to have a place to call their own.
“We are happy, Gborkon is happy. Mrs. Nyanti, thank you,” Kiadii said.
Nine-year-old Fatumata Francis said she and her peers will take advantage of all the opportunities offered at the Learning Hut.
“On behalf of my fellow students, I want to say a big thanks to Mrs. Sara Beysolow-Nyanti and members of her NGO for thinking about us girls in Gborkon Community,’’ she said. “I want to assure you that we will make good use of this learning opportunity so that we can become better citizens for our community and our country Liberia.’’
Madam Beysolow Nyanti, who lives in Brewerville, embarked on a series of development projects in her community, Cape Mount and Margibi over the last five to six years. She started Development Brokers and its community implementing arm, the SM4C in 2014, to change the outlook of impoverished communities around Montserrado County. The learning hut is constructed jointly by the TDB/SM4C and the community. With funding from Madame Nyanti, TDB/SM4C provides the financial support for the construction, pays the female teacher and the female social worker, provides equipment for the learning hut, as well as the supplies for the 30 adolescent girls such as their school books and other supplies.