The Africa Trust has decided to commence work in Liberia. This is a country which has been ravaged by prolonged civil war but is now peaceful. The country was brought to its knees during the long period of conflict in which many thousands of children were forced to become child soldiers. The chief executive of The Africa Trust spent three days interviewing 90 former child soldiers and he said that it was the most harrowing experience he has endured in over 25 years working in Africa. These young people, now in their 20s have gone through the most terrible experiences imaginable.
All were tortured and abused as child soldiers aged 7-15 years. One was forced to drink battery acid which burnt him terribly and left him unable to speak. Another was wrapped in barbed wire and thrown into a pit full of bodies and biting black ants when he refused to shoot another child. The worst atrocities hardly bear thinking about, but one very sad young man told of how the soldiers forced him to shoot his own parents. They do not want to keep re-living the past but want to have useful employment and the chance to build new lives.
A dozen of these former child soldiers have been trained how to build Elephant Pumps and Elephant Toilets. The Africa Trust wants to employ them to help improve the appalling lack of clean water.
Decent sanitation in the villages and townships of Liberia starting close to the capital Monrovia. The scale of this work will depend on the funds that The Africa Trust can raise but it may be possible to have a really significant impact in this small country.
Other approaches to reduce water-borne disease will also be piloted including water harvesting from tin roofs combined with household water filtration using locally made ceramic filters.
The skill of making clay pots is common in Liberia and across Africa. If the clay is mixed with fine dust like sawdust before firing then painted with colloidal silver it produces an excellent water filter which can be used on the household level. It rains a lot in Liberia, so this water can be harvested and stored in tanks. Over time stored water can develop algal growth and needs to be filtered before consumption. It is even possible for small businesses to develop where clean drinking water produced in this way is sold to the community. The production of pot filters is also a small business which The Africa Trust is encouraging.
As with other countries where The Africa Trust works, business skills training and loans for business start-ups will help to encourage entrepreneurs in Liberia and will generate wealth and employment. One of the businesses which has already been funded is motor-bike taxis. This provides employment, generates profit and also helps to address a critical shortage of transport in some areas around Monrovia. Many other businesses will be assisted over the coming months alongside the water and sanitation programme.
The Africa Trust was formerly welcomed to Liberia when the chief executive met with the Liberian Vice-President.