A Virtual Social Impact Tour of Monrovia

Social Impact Tour, July 2014By: Brooks Marmon, Accountability Architect.

The Accountability Lab recently convened the sixth Social Impact Tour of Monrovia—in partnership with the Business Start-Up Center (BSC) and Barefoot Liberia.  These tours, held the second Saturday of each month, provide visitors and residents of Monrovia alike with the unique opportunity to engage first-hand with the creative change-makers who are contributing to the national reconstruction of Liberia following 14 years of civil war. This month’s tour highlighted one of BSC’s beneficiaries and three of the Lab’s accountapreneurs:

  1. Approved WearAs the tour began the weather was cloudy and overcast, but the brightly patterned fabric and uplifting story of Geneva Garr at Approved Wear got the day off to a bright start.  Ms. Garr spent 18 years of her life as a refugee and ran a small boutique at a refugee camp in Ghana, where she realized that fashion “can be [her] livelihood, not just something [she] loves.” She had to start over from scratch when she returned home to Liberia, but today she is the proud proprietor of boutique fashion house Approved Wear.  With the support of BSC, Ms. Garr has gone from securing a small contract to produce school uniforms to being selected as a member of a Ministry of Commerce delegation to South Korea. BSC has provided her with the opportunity to attend trainings in South Africa and her ultimate vision is to expand Approved Wear to international locations.

  2. Daily TalkThe tour then made a return visit to the Daily Talk, which is run by Alfred Sirleaf, a citizen journalist armed with a large chalkboard and a group of volunteer assistants.  Alfred explained to the participants on the tour that he “put on [his] visionary cap and came up with a form of newspaper that everyone can read,” noting that “those who read it are the commoners in society.” Alfred added that his aim is to expose the ills in society and he also hopes to expand the Daily Talk model to other locations throughout the city. The Daily Talk provides up to 10,000 citizens a day with news, government information and civic education, and the Accountability Lab is helping Alfred to set up a second location in Monrovia, opening soon.

  3.  Accountability Arts SchoolLeslie Lumeh, one of Liberia’s most renowned visual artists spoke about the Accountability Art School and his organization, Liberia Visual Arts Academy.  The Academy offers programs for youth ages 10 – 25, which not only provide artistic instruction, but also the opportunity for youth to develop public-speaking skills and achieve their entrepreneurial ambitions. Leslie shared how this can help provide former child soldiersas they seek to overcome the trauma of war.  He hopes to expand the Academy into a full-fledged arts institute to help assist Liberia in reclaiming the rich cultural heritage lost during the war.

  4. Community Justice TeamsThe tour concluded with a visit the West Point Health and Sanitation Organization (WPHSO) in West Point, the poorest township in Monrovia—where there is just one court for 75,000 people.  Thomas Tweh at the WPHSO has built up a team of trained, volunteer mediators to administer an alternative community justice program that “serves [citizens] on the community level with no cash involved.”  This initiative saves citizens valuable time, money and effort as the team peacefully resolves domestic disputes, defaulted loans, and other minor civil cases, and in turn frees up the judiciary system.

If you would like to help of any of these entrepreneurs chase their dreams we encourage you to make a donation, or, if you will be visiting Monrovia, sign up for our next tour or contact us to arrange a specially curated tour.

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About Accountability Lab

Making power-holders accountable in the developing world

2 responses to “A Virtual Social Impact Tour of Monrovia”

  1. Mansa says :

    great stories. I love the one on Leslie and his art academy.

  2. Mansa says :

    virtual impact tour of. Monrovia is interesting. you are truly contributing to the upliftment of Liberia. I know this sort of project will change the mindset of our people from being negative and corruptive to one of positive and. honesty

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