First Update on COVID-19 Emergency Assistance in Liberia

Thank you for your warm support and cooperation with the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance in Liberia by Diamonds for Peace (DFP).

In the Mandingo quarter of Kakata City, Margibi County, where Diamonds for the Peace Liberia Office is located, our emergency assistance began on May 11 and lasted for six days. We provided 70 of the poorest households without hand washing facilities (a total of 758 persons) with hygiene supplies such as hand washing buckets, soap and cloth masks, and correct information about COVID-19 and hygiene instruction. After the distribution, the first round of monitoring was conducted from 18 to 20 May to ensure that people in the target households were washing their hands and wearing masks when going out, and we provided them with additional soaps.

[Provision of hygiene supplies as of 26th May 2020]

Number of targeted households Number of people Number of hand washing buckets provided Number of soaps provided (sachets) Number of cloth masks provided
70 758 70 420 700
The staff (left) and the family who received the supplies

Many households in Liberia are unable to rent their own individual home due to poverty, and there are often 2-3 families living together in a single rented house, one room per family. There is a high risk that if anyone is infected with COVID-19, everyone in the same house could also be infected. Many of the targeted households have about 10-20 persons, many of whom are children.

A young lady washing hands with the bucket provided.
Children trying to wear the masks provided

Some households without a hand washing bucket would put water from the well into a plastic bottle for hand washing, but the bottle itself was unsanitary and small in size, so it was not possible to wash hands thoroughly. As part of this emergency assistance, we went door to door using flyers to explain the importance of hand washing and preventive methods for COVID-19.

A plastic bottle which was used for hand washing before (center). A staff of Diamonds for Peace posts the flyer.

Although the lockdown has now been eased in Liberia, curfews remain in place and masks are required to be worn when out during the day (06:00-18:00).

People who have received the hygiene supplies have expressed their gratitude for the many things they can do now, such as not worrying about being caught by the police checking if people are wearing masks, being able to go to the market to buy groceries with a reduced risk of contracting the virus, being able to go to work to support their families, and being able to keep everyone in the family healthy.

Diamonds for Peace will continue to support those in need of hygiene supplies until COVID-19 is contained.

As a second round of emergency assistance, we are preparing to support Weasua town in the western region of Liberia, an artisanal diamond mining community. We have been conducting the assessment currently in Weasua as of 26 May 2020. Thank you very much for your support and cooperation.

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Report by a Liberian staff

Identification of beneficiaries of DFP’s emergency intervention supplies

Diamonds for Peace selected Mandingo Quarter where its office is located as its first target community for the emergency assistance. Since Mandingo Quarter Community is a large community that has roughly 6,000 residents, we identified the less privileged families to receive the emergency supplies. “Less privileged families” by our definition in this context means families that cannot afford to pay the cost (about USD8) for a faucet bucket. We conducted a rough assessment and identified 70 less privileged families.

Getting approval from the community leadership to carry out the distribution

A proper community entry requires meeting the leadership and other key stakeholders and explaining your institution’s mission and what it wants to achieve in that community. The community through its leadership will then acknowledge the presence of the institution and gives the permission and protection to the institution to implement its activities smoothly. To ensure that Diamonds for Peace did the right thing prior to the distribution of the emergency assistance, the local coordinator as head of the emergency supply distribution team met with the community leadership and explained our intention to supply 70 less privileged families with faucet buckets, clean soap and locally made cloth nose masks as a way of helping the fight against COVID-19 in Liberia. For the community, it was a very good and welcoming news; they commended DFP for the kind gesture to their community and said it was timely and in the right direction. They gave DFP the permission to go on with the distribution exercise and promised that DFP will be supported in the process. After the distribution exercise, DFP shared copy of the distribution listing with the community at the request of the community leaders.

DFP’s emergency supply team meets with the Mandingo Quarter Community leadership in Kakata

Distribution of the emergency supplies

For the distribution purpose, DFP formed the distribution team consisting of 3 staffs (2 male and 1 female). The distribution worked across the period of 6 days, distributing supplies to 12 families daily from day 1 to day 5, and 10 families on day 6. The supply package for one family includes: 1 faucet bucket, 3 klin soap, 8 pieces of cloth nose masks and a flyer containing COVID-19 information. Additional masks were given to families with more than 8 members. During the distribution exercise, the team spent more time sensitizing the families about COVID-19, and emphasized COVID-19 is a deadly virus that has spread throughout the entire world, has infected millions of people and has killed hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The team explained that frequent washing of hands, wearing of nose mask or face shield especially when going out of their home, keeping social distance from other people, and avoiding hand shaking, hugs and kisses are the preventive measures everyone needs to take in order to stay safe.

DFP distribute a hygiene kit to a less privileged family in Mandingo Quarter

The families were grateful for receiving the emergency supplies and they appreciated DFP for educating  them in the fight against COVID-19.

DFP distributes a hygiene kit to another family in Mandingo Quarter

The effect of DFP’s emergency supply on the lives of recipients

Receiving the supply is a boost of strength and confidence in the midst of COVID-19. With the availability of faucet buckets and soap which provides the opportunity for frequent washing of hands; the nose masks which prevents a person from breathing in the virus or passing the virus to other people, many families have been largely assured of reducing the risks to contract with  COVID-19.

Martin’s story after receiving the supply

The story of one recipeint (Martin) in the Mandingo Quarter community was captured during the assessment to identify the targeted families (you can read the story here). This article also highlights his story after receiving the emergency supply.

Martin:

I am grateful to DFP for providing me the opportunity to have access to the basic needed tools to fight COVID-19. With the faucet bucket and klin soap my family members are making sure to wash their hands as frequent as necessary, and it is helping to keep us safe. The government has relaxed the stringent measures on lockdown a little bit and people are now given time to go out and find food, from 6:00 to 18:00 daily. Now, with the use of DFP’s supplied cloth mask, I am now courageous to go out in search of contract without much fear of contacting the virus from the people I meet and interact with. On the other hand, people are also not afraid of me passing the virus to them because I am wearing mask and keeping social distance. Though not fully back to normal life yet, but at least I am able to find my family’s daily bread. However, I recommend DFP to follow up its emergency supply package with some food items, mainly rice.

Martin goes to work wearing a mask

Victor’s story after receiving the emergency supply

Victor is a physically challenged man who is confined to his wheelchair; he is 51, he has a wife and 3 children along with 2 extended family relatives; all together he has a family of 7 members. Victor works as a shoe repairer and sells locally made hats and bags made with bamboo leaves; it is from these activities that he sustains his family. But the invasion of COVID-19 has interrupted his business and is causing his family to suffer.

Victor says he is happy that his family is one of the beneficiaries of the DFP’s emergency supply package; his family can now go out in public especially in the market to buy food items without much fear of contacting the virus, and without been bothered by government security personnel consistent with the government’s mandate of compulsory wearing of masks in public places. Prior to receiving the supply from DFP, they could hardly leave their homes because they didn’t have  masks to wear. But now Victor goes to his shop daily and he is again making some money from his shoe repair work and selling of locally made hats and his family continues to survive.

Victor and some members of his family in their home

COVID-19 is real, it is in Liberia and the fight against it is on; through DFP’s intervention, 70 families in Mandingo Quarter now have the basic tools and important  knowledge how to fight COVID-19. However, this fight must involve everyone’s participation in order to ensure a rapid eradication of the virus in Liberia. Many needy families are still out there who require the basic tools to fight COVID-19 virus in order to keep their families safe.

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Diamonds for Peace will continue to support those in need of hygiene kits until COVID-19 is contained. Thank you for your support and cooperation!

With your support of 25USD, we can distribute a hygiene kit for a household with an average of 8 members.

If you are a resident or a company in the U.S., you can make a tax deductible donation by donating us through Empowerment Works, our fiscal sponsor in the U.S. Please click here to do so.

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Photos: Diamonds for Peace Liberia