According to a report called the Global Corruption Barometer report, (published by www.transparency.org) that made headline news in USA Today, Liberia is the most corrupt nation in the world. I had friends contact me upon seeing this report asking me why I live here? The answer is simple. With corruption of this magnitude the people are suffering tremendously. With little help from the government, the million people, who are trying to survive on $2 a day average wage need our help.
I’m grateful for the report. Perhaps now others, and less corrupt governments with interests here, will do more to help make changes needed to right the injustice being done. I moved here recently with assistance from my boyfriend who is involved with the US State Department, and knows first hand of the corruption that occurs daily, and the efforts being made by involved nations, like the US, to support Liberia out of a post war corrupted state, into a stable and thriving nation. Its not through lack of resources that Liberia stays poor. It is through the corruption at the highest and through all levels of government that its people are still struggling. Since coming here dating back to 2008, I’ve personally witnessed much progress. When I first arrived the roads were so bad, it took four times as long to travel anywhere as it does now; I didn’t have fresh, good food to eat at restaurants like I do now, and there was little construction occurring, where now, you see building occurring in many places. However, these improvements have yet to trickle down and widely affect the many people still living in extreme poverty conditions, now ten years after the end of the civil war.
Efforts made by grass-roots organizations like the one I’ve been working through since 2008, Youth Action International (headed by acclaimed youth activist, and Liberian native, who formed the Child’s Disarmament Campaign during the civil war, Mr. Kimmie Weeks), have done much to bring opportunities to women and youth, and clean water to thousands of people. This has all been accomplished through private donations by caring people and foundations, not government financial support.
One may argue that relief efforts are better spent in a nation where the people are better supported by their own government. While this may be true, I cannot deny the poverty I witness daily, nor the sincere frustration I witness from good, everyday people who just want to live a decent life and support their families. I love the people I’ve met in Liberia. I love and am inspired by the strength and resilience I’ve witnessed in them over the last six years in their desire to forgive the atrocities of the present as well as the past and rebuild their nation against incredible odds.
And, this report only fuels my passion to serve at a greater level. One way we are able to do this is through education. When a government purposely keeps its people ignorant and without opportunity, it allows for corruption to continue. By providing opportunities for girls to go to school and women to start businesses, statistics globally show that the poverty level rises. Hence the recent campaign called, Girl Rising’s efforts to engage more people in the support of these types of programs.
I ask you to join me in this effort here in Liberia. Here’s how. We are starting yet another center for Women’s Empowerment this year in another new community. We began our first back in 2008, and have seen them grow to serve hundreds of women. I’d like to see us serve thousands of women to find their voice, their power to serve their communities (even with a corrupt government) and to start businesses at the grass-roots level. Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mohammed Yunis, whom I had the great privilege of meeting personally in 2008, showed the world that the surest way to reduce poverty statistically is through providing a women a small loan to start a business, fueled with education and empowerment. Please join us, is our small but sure-fire and steady way to thwart the corruption here by empowering women to become community leaders.
Being smaller in population than the size of Los Angeles, a great change can be felt with a small effort in this country. You can join me by making a donation to our new center through this link: http://www.youthactioninternational.org/yai/index.php/2013/05/liberiamessengers/
You can also join me personally on one of two VoluTour trips I’ve developed and am leading here in Liberia. I’ve been leading trips here for six years without incident or concern for our safety, and am proud to bring groups here to discover first-hand the beauty of this country and its people, and to be an instrumental part of a larger vision for peace, development and justice. If you would like information about upcoming trips in October and November, and to obtain an interview as a potential participant, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
“Great changes are made in small ways with great love.” Mother Teresa