I hope you will join us as we make a difference!Bulleh Bablitch-Norkeh
Bulleh and her husband Fredrick lived and worked in Liberia for many years. Girl Power Africa is helping those in the most hopeless situations by empowering women with a hand up and children with an education.
Our Mission Statement
Girl Power Africa is a non-profit organization based out of Liberia, West Africa. Our mission is to help women and children who are in desperate need in a country still deeply affected by the effects of both a recent civil war and an Ebola epidemic. Our organization is dedicated to empowering women and children by providing them with the resources they need to thrive.
We are making a difference, one woman at a time, by giving them a hand up with an empowerment gift of goods to sell, giving them the resources and support to become self-sufficient. These products give women the power to rise above the economic and social conditions in Africa through entrepreneurial opportunities.
We are making a difference, one child at a time, by providing the gift of education. Girl Power Africa believes in the power of education to change lives and offer a better future. That’s why we have been providing school uniforms, educational supplies, and malaria vaccinations to over 500 children in Liberia every year. These children come from single-parent households, are being raised by relatives, orphaned, neglected, or abandoned.
Why We Are Helping
Liberia, West Africa is still under the effects of a brutal, 14-year civil war that left the country in shambles. Then, the recent Ebola epidemic further weakened Liberia’s infrastructure and took many lives. Entire families became homeless, many having to split up to find work. These events have left many women alone, homeless, and without resources to provide for their children.
The sad truth is many disadvantaged women who find themselves in this position are beaten, raped, abused by men, and often must resort to sex work to make ends meet.
During this time, the children have suffered immeasurably from starvation, abandonment, and sickness with no education and no hope. Many children have been orphaned, and depend on relatives or strangers to take them in. The war destroyed over 80% of Liberia’s schools. According to Girl Up, a nonprofit founded by the United Nations Foundation, more than 40% of Liberian girls aged 10-14 have never gone to school. Unfortunately, young girls fall victim to the most frequently reported crimes in Liberia, rape and human trafficking. We can attest that keeping girl s in school greatly improves their outcomes as well as protects their vulnerable childhood from these crimes by keeping them in a structured day and going to school.
How Girl Power started
Girl Power Africa was born in 2016 on the streets of Monrovia in Liberia, West Africa.
This organization was started quietly by one woman who saw an opportunity to help other women in need. She is our founder and her name is Bulleh Bablitch Norkeh.
Looking back, we did not know this was a beginning, because no one could have imagined how far we would come and what we were about to do. Let’s start in 2006. Bulleh, her husband, Frederick, and their young family were living in Minnesota when Frederick was asked by the newly elected and first female president of Liberia, West Africa, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, to join her cabinet. Frederick and Bulleh were both born in Liberia, so this request was not only a great honor but also very personal. His task would be to help this newly established government restructure as the country had just come out of a brutal, 14-year civil war.
Frederick who was still completing his PhD program gave great consideration to the impact such a move would have on his family. Heading back to his home country was not something he had planned for their immediate future, and even though Bulleh was also from Liberia, their young family was raised in a very Western culture. The impact on the children would be hard. Liberia was just coming out of a brutal civil war; it just didn’t sound like it was a good idea at the time.
As that year went on, the cabinet position weighed heavily on Frederick’s mind. In June of 2007, after his graduation from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, he departed for Liberia to go “try it out.”
Now living in Wisconsin, Bulleh stayed back with their girls, while Frederick was working in Liberia, but the distance from Frederick was becoming too much for the family. Frederick was no longer interested in just trying it out; he felt an immediate connection with the people of Liberia and a duty of country. He could not walk away. He wanted to make a permanent move, but he would need the blessing of Bulleh. Without her blessing, he agreed he would come back to Wisconsin.
In September of 2008, Bulleh travelled to Liberia for a visit, convinced she would just have to say it would not work, and they would all return to their comfortable Western life in Wisconsin. But, it didn’t quite work out as she planned.
After her visit to Liberia, where Bulleh saw the desperate need and gratitude of her people, she, too, fell in love with the country and wanted to do more. She travelled back to Wisconsin to start the onerous task of preparing a move to Liberia with her girls in tow.
By June 2009, she had boxed up the house and packed everything that she could into a 40-foot container, including her car. The rest of her life’s possessions were put into a storage unit. With that, she moved the family to Liberia, West Africa.
The adjustment from a comfortable, Western life in the USA was an eye opener for the family. What Bulleh witnessed the first years of being back in her home country was heartbreaking. Bulleh was seeing firsthand the toll the civil war had taken on the women of Liberia, and their stories were devastating.
From her small store-front location with a street view of Monrovia, Bulleh watched the women navigate their day-to-day lives. She started to ask questions and, in the process, gained their trust. The stories of these women and their struggle for survival unfolded. The tales were unbearable and seemingly insurmountable.
What Bulleh soon realized is, without a way to make a living for themselves, there was and would be truly no way out. So, she and Fredrick started gifting the women selling goods, which allowed them to sell a product and turn a profit to support their families. This went on for years, during which Bulleh and Frederick observed the results of this empowerment for the women and their families.
Over the years, as word got out of the success of these women, and the “Old Ma” that was helping them, more women found Bulleh. Many walked from remote villages through the night and waited to see her in the morning.
The stories of the women’s journeys to see Bulleh were heartbreaking. It was hard to turn anyone away. So, in 2015, she started posting on her personal Facebook page asking her friends if they wanted to help. Well, they did! And, they shared the posts with their friends, too.
It quickly became obvious that something amazing was unfurling and that the work needed not only a name but its own Facebook page and website to tell the story of what was happening day-to-day in Liberia. The little, grassroots organization was developing before their eyes. Girl Power Africa was officially born in 2016. It was at this time that a small group of volunteers stepped in to help organize what was developing!
As the donations for empowerment continued with great success, Bulleh set up guidelines for the women. She has always viewed empowerment as a hand up, not a hand out. While Girl Power Africa was giving them the first step up on a ladder, the women were responsible for the next. It was not long until the women were turning a profit, supporting their families, and reporting back to Bulleh. This chance at an independent life was a true gift for them. It was previously unimaginable that someone would help teach them a skill that was self-sustaining.
By March 2017, Girl Power Africa received it’s non-profit (501c3) status in the USA. It was at this time, Bulleh realized that, while empowerment was creating sustainable success for women and their ability to support their children, there were no spare funds for the empowered women to send their children to school. Knowing the importance of education, Girl Power Africa started to ask donors to sponsor the empowered women’s children for school. Donors stepped in to help, and shortly thereafter, sponsorships were extended beyond the empowered women’s children to encompass children in the most remote villages in Liberia. Bulleh knew aid rarely reached these remote areas and decided to travel the roads less traveled to reach the children there.
The impact Girl Power Africa is having in Liberia, West Africa is unmeasurable. We could not do this without our donors. Our focus continues to be empowering women, educating children, distributing needed supplies, and helping where the need is most.
Our story continues daily in Liberia, West Africa as we change lives. Won’t you join us?
Won’t you join us?
In a country where women and children are often forgotten or abused, our founder decided to give those in the most vulnerable situations a hand up, not a handout. To help teach women a skill and give children an education. Along the way, many of you have joined us and have seen firsthand the impact your donations make. If you are new to us, we welcome you to join us on this life changing journey not only for the women and children but for you as you experience how this will change your life, as well. We hope the world becomes smaller and you feel a connection across the ocean to Girl Power Africa, Liberia. Helping with a hand up allowing them a chance to gain a foothold in their future.
A letter from our founder.
Here is a little about my very beautiful, but complicated story.
I was born in Liberia by a Liberian mother and a Peace Corps volunteer father, Justice William Bablitch from Wisconsin. My father took me to Wisconsin in 1981 where I attended high school in Oregon, WI and then went on to attend Madison College. I met my husband, Dr. Frederick Norkeh, in 1990. Together, we have 3 daughters. I worked as a mortgage banker for 16 years, spending 13 great years with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.
Back in 2006, the President of Liberia, (the first female president in Africa) called on my husband to come to Liberia to help with the new government that was rebuilding after 14 years of civil war. He came and I stayed back in the states with the kids. After a few years of being apart, I could no longer handle the space between us and in 2009, I sold our house and we moved to Liberia, West Africa!
Getting settled, meeting the women of Liberia and hearing their horrific stories of war-torn tragedies, rape, prostitution, beatings, hunger, homelessness and hopelessness, I realized I had to stand up and help.
I’ve been helping girls and women who are in the most hopeless of situations.
I decided that the best way was to offer a hand up and not a hand out. I help to empower these women by giving them goods to sell. The goods are 100 percent free of charge for them with no strings attached. The only requirement is that they must check in with me monthly with their progress. This project has grown and word is out on the effectiveness of this program. Now I have more demand than what my pocket can produce. That’s when I started asking my friends and family to please join me, and Girl Power Africa was born.
This is very grass roots, I am a total amateur at this, but maybe that’s why God put me here. Many times, I’ve wondered what in the hell am I doing here so far from my grown children who are back in the states and I do miss all the comforts of America, but it’s all starting to make sense as I watch these women succeed. Their stories are so powerful and profound.
I have the advantage of having grown up in America and have some great friends and family there that have helped to make this happen and get the word out. Also, with my Liberian connection and being able to speak their language, the women open up to me easier. It’s the best of both worlds.
I’m so proud to announce we are now an official non-profit organization, who knew we would be where we are today!
Thank you for joining me on this journey! Girl Power, making the world a little better, One Girl at a time!
Love Bulleh (Boo)
Bulleh Bablitch-NorkehFounder of Girl Power Africa