Liberia’s First Lady Mrs. Clar Weah has launched a humanitarian foundation named “Clar Hope Foundation,” which aims to work with orphanages, less fortunate children, older folks, disadvantaged young people and do other projects like renovation of 200 schools in urban and rural areas.
Launching the Foundation Monday, 4 June in Congo Town, Mrs. Weah said the foundation focuses on four strategic pillars which include education, health, gender equality and economic development.
Dozens of donors made cash and material contributions to the Foundation at the launch Monday, while others made pledges. Mrs. Weah says the Foundation will undertake tangible projects such as construction of a maternity hospital, ensuring other health support initiatives, advocating against various forms of violence against women, implementing agriculture productivity program for rural and urban women and building and renovating schools.
She cites the rehabilitation and education of orphans, street girls and drug addicts as few of the things she wants to do with the Clar Hope Foundation.According to Mrs. Weah, she established the Foundation in February this year out of her passion to help Liberians, especially the disadvantaged move towards prosperity in support of the pro – poor agenda of the Liberian Government.
She notes that many Liberians, especially the underprivileged are living in poverty, saying she wants to give them hope wherever they are, whether at the orphanages or in the ghettos.
She appreciates all donors who traveled to Liberia and those here that have given support to the Foundation, especially the trust they have placed in her to support what she truly believes in without knowing her intentions.
For those who perhaps will question her integrity because of the way foundations have been run throughout the years, Mrs. Weah says she understands clearly why they would do that because everywhere money is, there has to be questions.
She says she is not at all offended by anyone for questioning her integrity, but challenges her critics to give her the opportunity to prove herself before they decide on who she is.
Speaking at the program, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor says “we are grateful” that Mrs. Weah has taken the mantle of authority and beginning to impact the lives of Liberians.
Madam Taylor says President George Manneh Weah began a process of talking about the pro – poor agenda which she says simply means making Liberia work for Liberians.
The Vice President says she listened to the stories about things happening in Liberia, but urges that the focus should not be on all of the negatives because in doing so, nothing would be done.
She expresses confidence that the Clar Hope Foundation will do great things in Liberia and pledges her fullest support. Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Mr. Nathaniel McGill has thanked everyone who turned out at the launching and making their contributions, saying he has no doubt in the credibility of the First Lady because he knows what she stands for.
Presenting the institution’s strategic plan, Clar Hope Foundation Executive Director Touria Benlafaih says the vision of the Foundation is to create an environment where women and children are happy and educated to live a decent and prosperous life.
She says one of the biggest and major programs that the First Lady wants to work on is supporting women farmers, providing access to finance so that they can buy machinery.
She says they want to also provide entrepreneur support so that women farmers do not just sell their produce but also for their transformation so that they can support their families.
Madam Benlafaih says another project is to create a vocational training for girls who are in urban areas and living in the streets and cemeteries so that they can learn skills to be able to acquire jobs.
Shes says Clar Hope Foundation is planning to renovate 200 schools in urban and rural Liberia and to renovate all the 58 licensed orphanages across Liberia.
USAID Mission Director Anthony Chan welcomes Mrs. Weah’s foundation into the landscape of initiatives to address pro – poor governance and growth, noting that by virtue of her position, she has an unparalleled opportunity to influence this government’s actions in support of a pro – poor development agenda.
He says the advent of a new administration with a democratic mandate and a commitment to address the plight of the poor provides fresh opportunities for frankly assessing Liberia’s development challenges and how they can be successfully tackled.
By Winston W. Parley