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Restoration – Girls’ Wellness Center, Monrovia, Liberia
Background

The Women and Youth Leadership Alliance (WAYLA) will implement the first of four phases planned for the Restoration-Girls’ Wellness Center in Monrovia, Liberia; spring, 2011. WAYLA will send teams of mental health and holistic healthcare practitioners during Phase I to provide services to Liberian girls, and train women who have survived decades of brutal, gender-based sexual violence used as a tool of war during the country’s 14 year civil conflict.
The Restoration Girls Wellness Center will also treat survivors of child rape, incest, child prostitution and trafficking which remain rampant in post-conflict Liberia.

Girls’ Wellness Center Goals:

Phase I – Treatment: American mental health and holistic healthcare practitioners provide wellness services to girls and women who are survivors of gender-based sexual violence, child prostitution and human trafficking

Phase II – Local Capacity Building: Practitioners train and certify Liberian women to:
1. provide holistic wellness services to:
~girls and women in their own communities
~expatriate communities
2. become small scale organic medicinal herb growers,
3. work in herbal product manufacturing
4. work in retail herbal product distribution

Phase III – Jobs Creation; Anti-poverty/Trafficking prevention: Create jobs in fields of alternative healing/medicine and organic medicinal herb farming that provide girls and women with viable economic alternatives to trafficking and child prostitution

Phase IV – Regional Export: West Africa & Micro-financing: Liberian women
entrepreneurs; organic medicinal herb growers.

Target Population: referrals for ongoing treatment: Minimum of (case-file documented) 100 girls and 100 women; i.e. 600 persons calculated in households during Phase I, year one, 1800 in Phase II, year two.

The Women and Youth Leadership Alliance (WAYLA) has established strategic business alliances with:
1. American herbal products manufacturers and medicinal herb growers
2. American mental health and holistic health practitioners:
a) Practitioner Teams serving in Liberia,
b) a US-based, Restoration Project Governance Team.
3. Liberian government and local NGO partners; prepared to refer girls and to the Restoration- Girls’
Wellness Center
4. Liberian agricultural co-operatives

STATEMENT OF NEED: LIBERIA

Elevated Child Rape Rates

Child rape in post-conflict Liberia has become the norm. In the aftermath of a civil war during which armed rebels murdered, raped and looted their way through the country with impunity, girls and young women are still not safe. Child rape rates are currently as elevated as they were during the war. Government officials, aid workers and community leaders report that rape attacks happen daily. The UN estimates that 75% -92% of girls and women in and around Monrovia have experienced some form of sexual violence, including rape.

Poverty and Trafficking; the Delivery Mechanism of Child Prostitution

As Liberia, a country with an 85% unemployment rate rebuilds in the aftermath of a Civil War which decimated its economy, abject poverty has increased the vulnerability of children to trafficking. Schooling came to an abrupt halt during 14 years of civil war. A lack of education for girls combined with elevated poverty indicators, are linked as driving forces behind sex trafficking. A direct cyclical correlation has been documented. When adults cannot work because of a depressed economy and lack of employment opportunities, many families, as a means of feeding themselves, sell their young daughters to traffickers who prostitute them.

Background: Liberian Trafficking

Liberia is a source, transit, and destination country for children and women trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Girls and young women are trafficked within the country from rural to urban areas for forced domestic servitude, street vending, begging, and sexual exploitation in brothels or private apartments.

SUMMARY
IF, as is the case: Victims of sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from debilitating depression; six times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder; thirteen times more likely to abuse alcohol; twenty-six times more likely to abuse drugs; and four times more likely to contemplate suicide….. AND
IF, as is the case: Girls and women who have suffered decades of sexual violence form the foundation of Liberia’s future development progress…..
THEN: Receipt of mental health services that facilitate psychological and healing, turnkey occupational training of Liberian girls and women and jobs creation are essential factors in ensuring the country’s development.
Liberia must heal its girls and women if the country is to anchor its peace-building, reconstruction and development process on a foundation of emotionally and psychologically
stable citizenry.

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