Is it abuse if it’s one of your classmates that is touching you?

What if the person who is touching you is your father? Will the police arrest him? What if your mother knows it’s going on but is doing nothing?

What kind of help will you get if you call the hotline and tell them you’re being abused?

These are just a few questions we were asked after a recent implementation of our anti-abuse teaching called Break the Silence. They’re heartbreaking questions we wish no child felt the need to ask; but we are so grateful they felt courageous and safe enough to ask the questions, and participate in this important discussion.

Almost exactly one year ago, Stefan wrote this blog about the beginning the program (If you’re unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, you might want to take a look there before continuing on!). It was new and exciting and a little bit scary, launching us into unknown waters as we worked together to teach children four important messages: they are important, their bodies are for them, safety is their right, and they can get help.

One year later we can say it’s been a rousing success, with much more to come.  We just celebrated reaching our program goal for the year; 2636 people were taught this important message since its inception in Liberia. The Hotline has provided a frontline response mechanism for abuse victims to reach out for help, and we’ve received countless comments of appreciation and gratitude for bringing this important teaching to this nation.

But as you can see from the questions asked at this recent implementation, we still have a long way to go. This is still a critical need for this teaching across Liberia; to bring further understanding to the difference between good and bad touch, regardless of who it is, and guidance on how to act and what to do if it’s happening to them or someone they know.   Every child deserves to be safe, loved, and protected, and we won’t stop until they are!

We’re thrilled to exponentially grow our partnerships in the coming year; through forging new relationships with Peace Corps and UNICEF, expanding our partnership with More Than Me, and continuing our work with Love146, Orphans Concern, and World Hope International, we could reasonably reach ten times the number of students in the coming programmatic year as the previous one.  Ten times the number of students who know it’s okay to say no; ten times the number of students who understand their body is for them only, that they have rights to safety and access to help if needed.  Once again we find ourselves in this new and exciting and a little bit scary place, launching further into unknown waters.  And while we’re excited about dreams becoming reality and grand new plans and numbers and partners and possibilities, we know if just one more child was taught and empowered and encouraged to get help, it would still be a rousing success.

Thank you for partnering with us as we keep working to break the silence surrounding abuse here in Liberia. If you’re interested in finding out more or helping support this project, please contact us! For day-to-day updates from the team on the ground in Liberia follow us on Twitter at @voicewithaction.

Krissy Close, Country Director, Liberia

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