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Protecting children's rights in Liberia: The Special Emergency to Restore Children’s Hope (SEARCH)
The Special Emergency to Restore Children’s Hope (SEARCH) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1999 to promote and protect the rights of children affected by the armed conflict in Liberia. Their aim is to secure the futures of children, women and young people who have been afflicted by violence, torture and other forms of abuses that undermine their fundamental human rights and dignity.
In the war torn city of Sanniquellie, Nimba County, Liberia, a small group of inexperienced high school graduates working for a community radio station dreamed of giving hope to children devastated as the result of the intermittent civil crisis.
Since its creation in 1999, SEARCH has reached out to children across the country. Their main focus is on densely populated counties such as Montserrado and Nimba which are home to over 60% of children aged 17 and under in Liberia. The organization has also expanded its activities from child protection to women, youth and refugees issues. Their activities include:
Research and advocacy
They consult experts and make use of national and international legal instruments on the rights of children, women, and refugees to advocate for the enforcement or reinforcement of policies and legislation affecting children, women, and refugees.
Peace building and conflict management
Liberia is a fragile state recovering from 14 years of protracted civil crisis. SEARCH works with local leaders, youth, women’s groups and local communities to identify triggers for conflict and work towards building their capacity in peace building and conflict management.
Their women's and children's human rights program stimulates community action in the prevention of and response to issues of child labor, sexual and gender based violence, and sexual exploitation and abuse. They do this through community mobilization, awareness raising, and the provision of assistance in education, livelihoods, and agriculture.
Health and HIV/AIDS prevention and response
SEARCH works to reduce incidences of HIV/AIDS, SEA/SGBV, and other related issues that affect the health and wellbeing of children and women through care and maintenance, as well as raising awareness around prevention. The organisation also runs an ambulance service in response to the health needs of the population.
Their current projects include:
- Assistance to urban refugees in Liberia
- Strengthening the capacity of civil society organisations to promote sustainable governance
- DAFI scholarship programme - tertiary education for refugees
Why did SEARCH need Mango training?
They wanted to strengthen their basic financial management skills and processes in several ways, as Finance Officer Marot Camor explains:
I chose particularly to do 'Getting the basics right' because as a person focused on finance at our organisation, I needed to have a very clear understanding of what non-for profit making accounting entails. Every donor we have implemented for only conducts a workshop to explain their reporting template. So, the understanding on financial management is not holistic but instead limited to their requirements. There has been no thought of risk prevention but currently we are completing our financial policy.
The areas SEARCH needed help with included:
- A basic understanding of non-for-profit accounting standards
- Understanding the role of the accountant in managing project funding from donors
- Correct cashbook recording and management
- Financial risk prevention
- Instituting financial policy
Through the Mango bursary scheme, Marot was able to attend Getting the basics right, a course that equips NGO staff with the skills needed to set up strong finance systems and procedures, create project budgets, keep basic accounts, and prepare and read financial reports.
What has changed for SEARCH after attending the training?
Marot describes how SEARCH have taken significant steps to strengthen their basic financial management systems and processes:
"We are collecting bank statements regularly and doing our reconciliation as ways of keeping track of available funding. Staff are now making their activities budget and reporting expenditure as required.
Financial policy is at the verge of being completed, we delegate authority to ensure check and balance, and a proper cash book is now in use"
To learn more about Mango's bursary scheme or to make a donation, please visit our bursary infomation page here.