Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa bordered by Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north and Côte d’Ivoire to its east. It covers an area of 111,369 km² and is home to about 3.7 million people.
From antiquity through the 1700s, many ethnic groups from the surrounding regions settled in the area, making Liberia one of Africa’s most culturally rich and diverse countries. Settled in the early 1800s by freeborn Blacks and former slaves from America, Liberia, whose name means “land of freedom,” has always struggled with its double cultural heritage: that of the settlers and of the indigenous Africans.
A Unique History
Portuguese explorers established contacts with Liberia as early as 1461 and named the area Grain Coast because of the abundance of grains of Malegueta Pepper. In 1663 the British installed trading posts on the Grain Coast, but the Dutch destroyed these posts a year later. There were no further reports of European settlements along the Grain Coast until the arrival of freed slaves in the early 1800s. Liberia, which means “land of the free,” was founded by free African-Americans and freed slaves from the United States in 1820. An initial group of 86 immigrants, who came to be called Americo-Liberians, established a settlement in Christopolis (now Monrovia, named after U.S. President James Monroe) on 6 February 1820. Thousands of freed American slaves and free African-Americans arrived during the following years, leading to the formation of more settlements and culminating in a declaration of independence of the Republic of Liberia on 26 July 1847.
Let’s Fast Forward 142 Years….A Civil Unrest
From 1989 to 1996 one of Africa’s bloodiest civil wars ensued, claiming the lives of more than 200,000 Liberians and displacing a million others into refugee camps in neighboring countries. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened in 1990 and succeeded in preventing Charles Taylor from capturing Monrovia. Prince Johnson – formerly a member of Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) – formed the break-away Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL). The bloodshed did slow considerably, but it has not ended. Violent events have flared up regularly since the end of the war.
The State of Liberia Now
Seven years of civil war undid much of what Liberia had achieved. Most of the country’s infrastructure and public buildings were destroyed. Two hundred thousand people were killed, and another 800,000 displaced from their homes. Close to another 700,000 became refugees in neighboring countries. Recent reports from international political, environmental, and humanitarian groups point to Liberia’s sky-high unemployment, continuing human rights violations that have consistently plagued the region. Today, the Liberian people are just beginning the slow process of recovering from the economic, social, political, and psychological trauma of the war. With your help we can do our part to ensure that Liberia can rebuild into a unified sustainable and peaceful nation, thus enhancing the quality of life of everyone who inhabits the beautiful region.
In 2016, the VP of Liberia Hon. Joseph Boakai visited us in Phoenix, Arizona, as part of the exchange between our state and Liberia. On that occasion, I met the VP Hon Joseph Boakai and his right-hand person Mamaka Bility. We presented our PPEP and Affiliates programs. There was an exchange with our students at the Alice Paul Learning Center in Casa Grande, Arizona. Furthermore, a formal MOU between Liberia Ministry of Education and PPEP Tec H.S. was signed. On that same trip, there was an invitation for the CEO Dr. Arnold to visit Liberia to learn about the efforts ongoing there among the rural, inner-city poor, and farmworkers.
On December 14, 2016, Dr. Arnold flew to Monrovia from Accra, Ghana, where he was on tour of West African nations and the PPEP/Tree of Life projects. Also Dr. Arnold attended a meeting and made a presentation at the Monrovia Rotary Club regarding micro finance, vegan farming, and Diabetes education and prevention. Dr. Arnold made three visits to a variety of organic farming in the Bond County, which had been ground zero for the Ebola plague. Dr. Arnold saw a unique project; whereby, swampland was being converted into rice and fish farming by the youth of that area. This under the supervision of Mr. Bility the youth are given stable employment allowing them to stay in the rural areas and not migrate to the city centers. Dr. Arnold had several conversations with the vice president about his plans and vision for the future of the rural areas and how our organizations support that vision.
Dr. Arnold also met the President of Liberia Hon. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and briefed her on projects to improve the quality of rural life here in America and other countries of West Africa. Meetings with the JFK Hospital and Phebe Hospital took place in order for preparations for Dr. Gabriel Cousens from the Tree of Life and Dr. Arnold to return in December and conduct vegan farming as well as a natural cure of diabetes seminars. In 2017, the Executive Director of PMHDC, Jay Diallo traveled to Liberia to meet with the Monrovia Rotary Club and view the swamp recovery projects as possible collaborations for development including micro finance. We will keep you posted on developments in this new venture in Liberia.