Rosana Schaack and her girls
Rosana Schaack and her girls: It is time to listen, learn and love those who have been silenced by war
  • Special vistor to THINK

My name is Rosana Schaack and I am the Executive Director of the NGO Touching Humanity In Need of Kindness (THINK- www.thinkliberia.com), Inc.  I got my vision to work with women and girls from participating in a survey of the war experiences of women and girls during the Liberian civil war. In 1994, Dr. Shana Swiss, an American doctor, came to Liberia to gather this information for the organization she worked with called Women’s Rights International. After hearing the awful stories from women and girls in displaced people’s camps, communities around Monrovia, Market Women and high school girls in and out of school, I felt compelled to do something to restore hope and advocate for the rights of women, girls and children who were child soldiers and were both perpetrators and victims of the civil war. I first worked as Project Coordinator for Calvary Chapel Liberia doing rehabilitation for child soldiers. When that project was over, I felt there was a need to continue working with the former combatants and got two younger women in my church to join me in starting THINK and developing the programs as we went along. Monitoring and Evaluation of what we did included a questionnaire and focus group discussions with five categories of women and girls. During the focus group discussions, we found out that women and girls were willing to talk about their experiences. We developed survey questions that were culturally acceptable and conducted the survey in Monrovia and then when the fighting forced us to run to Ivory Coast for refuge, we regrouped and were able to access women and girls from Greater Liberia and from Monrovia that had fled as refugees prior to our entering. The findings of the two sets of surveys (1994 – 1997), were presented to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2008.

There were two stories in particular that prompted me to do something to provide rehabilitation of child soldiers and women and girls affected by the civil war in Liberia. One was from a young woman that joined one of our focus group discussions in a market and the other was from a 18 year old girls in Ivory Coast that had been taken from a check point line from her grandmother and taken to live with the rebel fighters for three years.  She was forced to cook human flesh, watch killings and other horrific things. She was rescued by West African Peacekeepers and helped to cross the border from Liberia into Ivory Coast.

THINK was founded by three Liberian women to advocate for the rights and well-being of women and children in Liberia and opened a Rehabilitation Home for girls and young women associated with the fighting forces in October, 2003. The THINK Rehabilitation and Empowerment Home now caters to war affected adolescent girls and young women with various social problems such as victims of trafficking, survivors of gender based violence, commercial sex workers and girls separated from their families because of war. The home provides shelter, protection, medical care, psychosocial support and counseling, academic classes using the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) curriculum, vocational skills training (Pastry making, food preservation and catering, Tailoring, and Cosmetology), life skills training including Reproductive Health, awareness about HIV/AIDS, prevention and response to GBV, conflict resolution and peace building, parenting and child care for under-five children of 10 of the girls. The home accommodates 25 girls and 10 of their under-five children. Each cycle of girls stay in the home for nine months.The impactful thing about THINK Liberia is the fact that our success is visible in the transformation in the lives of our beneficiaries. I attribute this impact to the fact that I was able to plan interventions that would help women and girls because I had first hand information and interaction with the target population and knew the culture and traditions so that our approach would be culturally accepted. Being available to the beneficiaries and involving the communities in some of the interventions are helpful as well. THINK is involved with advocacy and activism on Human Rights, especially Women and Children's Rights. THINK is a lead local NGO in the prevention and response efforts of sexual and gender based violence in Liberia.I am the 2010 recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award For Internationals (DLAI) from the University of MN. I am a member of the Vital Voices Global Partnership in fighting Violence Against Women and Girls. I received the 2012 Vital Voices Human Rights Award. Through THINK I have  been providing prevention education in communities in Monrovia and in rural parts of Rivercess County. Our organization also provide sexual violence clinics and most recently we are providing a UNICEF-sponsored program of psychosocial activities with children affected by Ebola. I’m not a big talker. I’d rather do and as I communicate, live with and listen to the conflict-affected women in our country, they become aware of their power and I do my best to support and validate the best of each one of them.

 

 

Take action! This post was submitted in response to The Path to Participation Initiative from World Pulse and No Ceilings.

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Dear Rosanashaack,

Thank you so much for sharing your story. Think Liberia is doing some amazing work and I really enjoyed hearing how the NGO is making such a large impact on these women and children in Liberia. It sounds like you have been able to accomplish some amazing things both individually and as an organization. I wish you the best of luck with the future of Think Liberia and look forward to reading more of your success stories on World Pulse.

Sincerely,  Alyssa Rust 

It is wonderful to read stories like yours, Rosana. It is teatament to what one woman wil a mission can do on our shared earth.

"Time and again we see leaders and members of religions incite aggression, fanaticism, hate, and xenophobia - even inspire and legitimate violent and bloody conflicts." -Hans Kung

I would like for you to consider bringing your story to the Parliament of the World's religions in October. Religions still promoting blood sacrifice to appease angry gods must be shown the ways of the feminine power of The Sacred Spirit on our earth.

https://www.youtube.com/user/parliamentofreligion

http://parliamentofreligions.org 

Yvette

Dearest Rosana,  

"Empowerment" is what you gift the women and girls that you refer to.  You, and others you partner with, provide them with information and a light to not only understand, but to follow in order to survive and surpass the unheard autrocities against them. The "light" that is who they are, and the best that they can be regardless.. to find their power and strength beyond the grievences against them and generations of those who suffered, yet endured with strength, that stand in line of their heritage.  They CAN make a difference and you, and those who support the mission, make that more possible than ever. 

And a thank you goes out to the three Liberian women who founded THINK and to you as Executive Director: 

"The THINK Rehabilitation and Empowerment Home now caters to war affected adolescent girls and young women with various social problems such as victims of trafficking, survivors of gender based violence, commercial sex workers and girls separated from their families because of war. The home provides shelter, protection, medical care, psychosocial support and counseling, academic classes using the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) curriculum, vocational skills training (Pastry making, food preservation and catering, Tailoring, and Cosmetology), life skills training including Reproductive Health, awareness about HIV/AIDS, prevention and response to GBV, conflict resolution and peace building, parenting and child care for under-five children of 10 of the girls."

My hand literally goes to my heart as I read, and my hands come together in prayer and acknowlegement in front of me, tips of my fingers to my forehead, with head bowed in honor of your and others journey and contribution to this cause.

As a survivor of both domestic violence and sexual assault, I sent you a deep thanks for your commitment and mission to eradicate violence against women and girls in the world.  Your energy and focus, action, will have a broad effect... not only to women and girls surviving the LIberian Civil War but across the globe.

I cannot tell you how moved I am by the very title of THINK:  Touching Humanity in the Need of Kindness.

Thank you for sharing, and being "you" in touching so many lives!

In solidarity and deep appreciation!

Veronica

"I see you"

In peace and solidarity ~ strength

Namaste,

Veronica

Hello Rosana,

Thank you for telling us about Think Liberia.  It sounds like it is a very comprehensive program that can help the girls and women in it overcome the many obstacles that have been placed in their lives so they can bring out the best of themselves.  I look forward to hearing more about this program and the work you are doing in prevention education.

Kristina

Merci pour le travail que tu fais pour le peuple liberian, specialement pour la travail fournis à l'égard des filles , merci et courage , luttons ensemble. prochainement en ligne

bajira