Every year, over 3,000 women from around the globe head to the United Nations headquarters in New York to attend a 2 week conference that discusses and highlights the strides being made to address women issues and gender equality worldwide.
This year, KEEP is proud that its Founder, Brenda Brewer Moore was invited by ActionAid and OCHA to be a part of the discussions and share her experiences as a First Responder during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Liberia.
OCHA and ActionAid also organized a pictorial gallery that showed scenes from work women from around the world had done during disaster and crises situations and scenes from KEEP’s work was featured in the gallery as well.
Ms. Moore joined her voices with other women to call for more support to women organizations and women led organizations around the world as women play a key role which is often overlooked, not recognized and supported. She called for more tangible direct support to local organizations, capacity building, funding and inclusion in decision making and policy formulation. Her full speech can be read below:
Hello everyone, my is Brenda Moore and I am from Liberia, West Africa.
I am the founder of a local non profit called Kids Educational
Engagement Project (KEEP) started during the height of the Ebola virus
outbreak in Liberia. An initiative that I started out of the need see
the Liberian children kept academically engaged during the indefinite
closure of schools in the country as an effort by govt to curb the
spread of the virus. This meant going from house to house. Talking to
other mothers who were home. Older siblings to tutor their younger ones.
With the help of over 15 other volunteers, most of whom were women, we
were able to reach over 7,000 children in 70 communities.
I have many memorable moments from that crisis response, but my most
memorable moment of a time when at the height of the Ebola outbreak and
we had taken educational kits to over 25 homes in a community not far
from mine and at the time, we weren’t wearing personal protection gear
like gloves and there was this child who we had given an educational kit
to that contained crayons, coloring ages, pencils etc. and she was so
excited that people had come to her home an brought something for just
HER…she ran to me and hugged me.
For a second I froze in deep fear because we all knew that ebola could
be contracted through touch. I also knew that her parents were watching
me to see my reaction.so rather than push her away, I knelt down to her
level and told her I was happy she was happy for the educational kits
and hope she would write in the books we had left for her, but she
should know that there is a sickness in Liberia called Ebola and you get
it from touching people.so she should not be touching strangers because
Ii could have made her sick and she would make mommy sick.
I got up and left not long after that and that was when we started
wearing gloves in our outreach. I realized also at that point that I
could’ve also gotten infected and infected my family in turn. I was a
profound moment for me. But it didn’t scare me enough to stopping, just
to taking extra precautions.
We have since transitioned into a more structured organization that
continues to work at the grassroots level in about 70 communities in
Liberia in 3 counties.
We focus on providing various support in the education sector,
particularly at the primary school level. KEEP also promote and support
women & girls’ empowerment, economic livelihood, access to justice,
promotion of rights in schools, strengthening youth education through
computer and reading literacy programmes, child sponsorship and
I was motivated to do this because I lived in Liberia during the civil
war and I saw the level of death and destruction the war caused. The war
took a huge part of my childhood away and one thing I always said was
that in whatever way I can, I would make help build my country and be a
part of its development and growth, even in small little ways. I am a
mother first and foremost and I want a better Liberia for them than the
one I grew up in and I am happy to be a part of a movement of like
minded Liberians focused on raising Liberia.
I am a living example that women can play a key role in humanitarian
responses and that innovative solutions and community led responses can
be driven by women in both the formal and informal sectors. I would like
to see our work more recognized, tangibly supported and promoted.
I would like to see more policies that support to local Reponses led by
women, more capacity development. I would like to see more involvement
of women led community based organizations both in the planning of
responses and post development and policies around recovery. Currently,
of all humanitarian funding, only a tiny fraction goes to local
women organizations and I would like to see that changed to something
like at least 15%. This can be done.
I would also like to see more local organizations tangibly supported.
More localization of humanitarian response and development.
I am honored to be here today as a local implementing partner of AAL,
which thrives to work through and with local partners, even non
structured ones and I am here today because they truly believe in equal
partnership and localization.