What began in the 1800s as a settlement of freed U.S. slaves is now the country of Liberia. It is struggling to rebuild after decades of brutal war and government corruption, which left a shattered infrastructure and thousands of refugees from neighboring countries. On Africa’s western coast, Liberia is bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea, the Atlantic Ocean and Cote d’Ivoire.
Liberia has the world’s third-highest unemployment rate, its infant mortality rate ranks in the top 20, and it is in the bottom 10 on the United Nations’ Human Development Index.
ChildFund has served children in Liberia since 2003.
Letting Children Be Children
Where children were once recruited as child soldiers, there are now opportunities for them to play, grow and develop at our Interim Care Centers. We focus on rehabilitating communities and reintegrating war-affected women and children as well as internally displaced persons and refugees.
Our Community Education and Investment Project works to enroll demobilized child soldiers in primary school. We have built new schools and supported more than 110 schools with learning materials, including more than 75,000 books.
Through 240 Child Well-Being Committees, 192 children’s clubs, 60 youth groups and support groups and literacy circles for more than 1,700 women, we are helping to rebuild the country after years of war.
We’ve helped build women’s centers, peace halls, early childhood development centers, wells, markets and community-based health care facilities to open access to vital services and to return the country to a sense of normalcy. ChildFund works to strengthen and empower communities to better support their most vulnerable members.
We have ongoing relationships with humanitarian organizations and the government of Liberia. We are transitioning to longer-term child protection and development programming.
Ending Gender-Based Violence
Our Safeguarding the Future Effectively program in the Bomi, Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount areas responds to the needs of gender-based violence survivors and helps create awareness of these crimes through sessions on domestic violence, harmful traditional practices, women's rights, the consequences of gender-based violence and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS.
Another one of our many programs, Shine a Light, focuses its efforts on preventing and responding to gender-based violence against children. Shine A Light works with government, law enforcement, social work schools and communities to create a nationwide system to protect and serve children at risk for gender-based violence.
Access to Food and Water
Many children in Liberia are without access to clean, safe water, so their families can only use dirty stream and river water, which can spread a variety of deadly — yet preventable — diseases. We construct wells in villages and also provide training on hygiene.
Our food security programs focus on seed distribution and technical training so that farmers can not only feed their families, but also generate income from their surplus crops. Animal husbandry techniques give families alternative ways of earning money. We provide additional vocational skills training to local workers and offer small grants to families to help them make the most of their vocational training.