Liberia’s Vice President and Founder of the Jewel Starfish Foundation, Chief Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor, has been identifying with beneficiaries of the Foundation in Margibi and Grand Bassa Counties.
In establishing the Foundation, the avowed advocate for the empowerment of women and girls saw it to be about belief and opportunity, an undertaking that is now unleashing the potential of over 1000-thousand adolescent girls living in poverty across the country, so that they can lift themselves and those around them out of poverty.
The Foundation seeks to keep girls in school, helping them develop career paths providing mentorship program and implementing training programs (with a training-of-trainer component) for women leaders with the objective of creating diverse networks and building the needed technical and professional skills.
Speaking Saturday, July 20, 2019, when she separately engaged gatherings of the beneficiaries, VP Howard who is Liberia’s first female Vice President and a strong advocate for women causes, opined that many families in Liberia still do not recognize the importance of “girl child education,” especially in low-income areas where school fees are difficult to afford.
She explained that oftentimes when parents cannot afford school fees, they give male children priority over the girls to attend school. This anomaly, she noted, moved her Foundation to undertake the task of supporting and empowering young girls across the country.
“The Jewel Starfish Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that is creating a ‘new normal’ for girls – helping create champions of a world in which girls can reach their full potential and the intergenerational cycle of poverty can be broken”, VP Howard-Taylor inspired the gathering of young girls.
VP Howard-Taylor furthered that, “When a girl has self-belief and is supported by her family and community; when she’s empowered with skills, ideas and knowledge; when she has access to services, role models and other girls: when she is visible and vocal – she can demand to stay in school, to get healthcare, and to get married and have children when she chooses.”
The Foundation is targeting and paying the tuition of over 1000-thousand adolescent girls in grades seven to twelve in public and private schools across the fifteen political subdivisions who maintain the minimum grade average of 75%.
The Liberian Vice President according to a release from the office of the Vice President also presented to the beneficiaries shoes boxes given her by one of her partner organizations, the Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization that preaches Christian love and carries out humanitarian work.
Speaking earlier, the Executive Director of the Foundation, Dzifa Zormelo, reminded beneficiaries to take seriously their education by remaining focused and disciplined in their schools.
At separate gatherings in Margibi and Grand Bassa counties, some of the beneficiaries, most of whom are orphans, expressed gratitude to VP Howard-Taylor for supporting their educational desire during these difficult times.
As in Margibi and Grand Bassa Counties, teams of Foundation volunteers are also visiting other counties to assess the current state of beneficiaries, review their academic performance, and inspire them to remain on track.