From 1989 until 2003, Liberia experienced just three years of peace between two successive civil wars that left more than a quarter of a million people dead and dealt a devastating blow to the nation's economy. During the war, children were routinely forced to fight as child soldiers under threat of torture or death, or harm to their family. The psychological scars of warfare are devastating for experienced soldiers, let alone young children. Forced to commit brutal acts of violence out of fear for their own safety, many children drafted by rebel forces were left isolated and vulnerable at the conclusion of the war. One in five child soldiers of Liberia have attempted suicide.
Aside from shouldering the emotional burden of fighting, children returning to their communities were often shunned by parents struggling to rebuild in light of the bloodshed. In some cases, children were viewed as liabilities or even commodities, with many children sold into labor. Others became victims of domestic and other types of abuse. Even children fortunate enough to have homes following the end of the civil war still face a range of serious problems. ChildFund came to Liberia at the conclusion of the second Liberian civil war in 2003 and found that despite nationwide efforts to rebuild the country's devastated educational system, many children still lacked access to basic education.
To help children re-enter society, ChildFund introduced interim care centers to offer former child soldiers rehabilitation and displaced children the opportunity to play, grow, learn and address the past. In addition, our community education and investment project provided more than 110 schools across Liberia with much-needed academic materials, including around 75,000 books.