Gertrude Toezay: Giving a second chance to single mothers in Liberia
To many single and teenage mothers, life is never easy, especially when they have to cater for the basic needs of their children. Financial challenges have seen some mothers resort to unconventional means in order to feed their families. But not in Duport Road Rural Community in Liberia.
Here, women have found a shoulder to lean on. Lend a Helping Hand Initiative (LAHHI), a non-governmental organization is working with single mothers, young women and girls in Liberia to empower them economically. The organization was founded by Gertrude Toezay.
After two years of a bad relationship, Toezay, the now executive director of LAHHI walked away. But she did not end it there. She decided to offer a shoulder and solution to fellow women who were experiencing similar challenges.
“I wanted to help single mothers, young women and girls to become financially independent to take care of their families,” said Toezay.
The organization seeks to improve the lives of women by providing then with opportunities for through vocational skills training programs such as catering, tailoring, soap making and fashion designs among others. Toezay, a Young African Leadership Institute (YALI) graduate and a 2019 Mandela Washington Fellow at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, hopes that her work will improves the lives of the women she works with.
Located in Duport Road Community in Liberia, LAHHI also conducts awareness among students about the dangers of teen pregnancies, Sexually Transmitted Infections and and other health related issues. “
“I am a single mother, I understand the challenges we faced every day and helping other single mothers, young women and girls become financially independent means a lot to me,” said Toezay.”
LAHHI also conducts awareness among students especially teenage girls on the disadvantages of teenage pregnancies, early sex, sexually transmitted diseases and other health related issues. “It gives me so much joy in educating teen ages girls to value education and encouraging them to make the right decisions.” She explained
Toezay is an alumna of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) regional leadership program, West Africa Accra, Ghana. In addition, she is a 2019 Mandela Washington Fellow at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Civic Engagement Institute undergoing a six weeks leadership training.
Toezay believes that when a woman is empowered, she is in a better position to take care of her children and lead a better life as a person. So far, LAHHI has helped five women through its programmes. They are all single mothers with children. “I also look forward to open a vocational skills training institute upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship. Here, women will learn dressmaking, local food processing, African fashion design, soap-making, and other programs that will help improve their lives,” she says.