Devastated by years of conflict, young Liberians are now starting to learn what life is like in peacetime.
Former President Charles Taylor left Liberia in 2003 in the midst of a crisis. Since then UN peacekeepers have been deployed across the country, coordinating a return to peace. But the 14-year-long civil war that ended in 2003 left one million people homeless and 200,000 dead. 80 per cent of Liberians live below the poverty line, and the country is heavily dependent on foreign aid.
We support two partners in Liberia, both of whom were present throughout the conflict, and are focused on helping people involved in the war, particularly young people, find a place back in their communities.
In 2011, we also provided emergency food aid, shelters, sleeping mats, blankets and cooking utensils to help villagers in the east of Liberia support refugees who fled conflict in Cote d'Ivoire.
A sporting chance
CAFOD’s Liberian partner Don Bosco Homes is an organisation that started work in and around the capital in 1996 at the end of the first civil war. They rehabilitated hundreds of child soldiers, providing support to those left orphaned and traumatised by the conflict. They were also very active in getting children and young people back into education, after years of little or no access to schooling.
Football plays a huge part in the work of Don Bosco Homes. Staff organise practise sessions, matches and tournaments, using football to bring together youngsters from previously warring factions. These regular games help to ease tensions and teach lessons of conflict resolution in a subtle way.
Ebola in Liberia
Liberia has been badly affected by the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Through the war we stayed in the capital for as long as possible, but one day we just had to flee. My mother told me to pack a few things, and she came in and saw me with my football boots in my hand. She went crazy 'what are you doing with those?' But they helped me to survive. I would be stopped by armed guards, they would point their guns and ask me where I was going. I always told them ‘I am a footballer, I have a match and I can’t be late’ and they would always let me go. My boots were my freedom.”