Munah Kiehkelly a mother of five was first hired at the Women’s NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL), as a volunteer office assistant, receiving only a small monthly stipend to clean the office and sort incoming mail. Munah was reserved, quiet, and burdened with concerns that her opportunities to excel professionally were limited because of her lack of knowledge and skills. Now, three and a half years later, Munah is truly a force to be reckoned with.
Thanks to the initial and ongoing support of WONGOSOL, encouragement from IREX and her colleagues from the other Resource Partners, along with her own commitment and growing confidence, Munah is leading training workshops, managing grants, developing trainings, and ensuring her mentor organizations get the help they need. Munah’s story is indeed an inspiration to change, as it inspires other single mothers around the world.
In 2010, WONGOSOL signed on as an implementing partner with IREX on the USAID-funded Civil Society and Media Leadership Program in Liberia (CSML). WONGOSOL serves as one of our Resource Partners providing capacity building support to civil society organizations (CSOs) in seven counties in Liberia.
Based on their belief in her potential, WONGOSOL asked Munah to serve as a Mentor for the program, meaning she would be responsible for supporting and counseling these CSOs in order to strengthen their role in Liberia’s growth and development. Munah found herself cast in a new challenging role, and as she shadowed her more experienced colleagues she learned best practices in mentoring, and transferred those skills to her own mentorship.
“This has shaped my life, shaped me completely from being nothing, to being something.” she said.
After a few months, a Master Trainer at WONGOSOL left the position, but not before she recommended that Munah take over her role. With the further encouragement of WONGOSOL’s Executive Director, Munah stepped into the shoes of Master Trainer, responsible for her team’s mentorship of 17 CSOs and for delivering diverse trainings to her mentees, including leadership, proposal writing, reconciliation, gender mainstreaming,
“I thought I couldn’t make it,” shared Munah, “but I started to gain confidence little by little” She developed the confidence to lead and to teach. Once she found her voice, she truly began to use it.
When IREX President W. Robert Pearson visited Liberia and hosted a meeting with the Mentors and Master Trainers from all of IREX’s Resource Partners, he asked the group questions about their work, and initially was met with nerves-induced silence. Munah was the first to raise her voice and share the challenges that she faced in her work and her insight on the program.
Her aspirations now are to become an expert trainer, and she has already informed WONGOSOL that rather than hire external consultants for upcoming grant opportunities, she would like to be considered as the ideal candidate to develop and deliver trainings. “We can do it ourselves,” Munah shared, speaking of herself and her fellow mentors, “we can deliver.” She added, “many times I look back, I see myself, and I thank almighty god, and WONGOSOL for accepting me as a volunteer and allowing me to be mentored, and the intervention of IREX—this has shaped my life, shaped me completely from being nothing, to being something.”