A Message From Mitch

Just over two months ago I launched Sahbu. At that time there were very few people who even knew where Liberia was or how they might help. Now, we have hundreds of “likes”, hundreds of thousands of hits, TV, online and newspaper coverage, donations and many, many prayers. We’ve helped school children, former child soldiers, former teen prostitutes and even kids that have been kidnapped or sold into slavery. I’ve been able to speak to hundreds of people about Sahbu and more and more opportunities arise every day. Momentum continues to build as we prepare to launch a kickstarter campaign focused on helping former child soldiers. We’ve also had the opportunity to speak with film producers, artists, musicians and business leaders who want to support the cause and help us spread the word. I’m grateful for all the volunteers and donors! Great things have happened. I’ve always said, “if we save one child it will all be worth it,” but the reality is we’ve already accomplished much more than that…and I feel like this is just the beginning! Thank you! –Mitch Weight

Former Child Soldiers Thank Sahbu

Watch the excitement as Mitch Weight is the first person ever to offer these former child soldiers money for one of their paintings! This is a group of men who were civil war soldiers as children. Their general Joshua Milton Blahyi (aka General Butt Naked) has taken them off the street to educate and teach them skills in preparation for a life of nonviolence. One of these skills is art. This is the 7th group of boys that Joshua has rehabilitated. It is his goal to be able to help 400 boys at one time. When Mitch learned what this program was doing for boys, he wanted to support it. He witnessed true artistic talent in the form of watercolors. The painting in this video was completed by all 18 former child soldiers and dedicated to Sahbu. Check it out!

Liberian Boys, Running from the Rebels

Liberian boys faced unbelievable horrors running from forced armed service during the civil war. A comment from Dadob, a viewer of a KSL news story featuring Mitch Weight, weighed-in on his experience working with young Liberian men. Before Mitch’s scheduled trip to Liberia two weeks ago, he met with Jed Boal of KSL News who shared what he learned about Sahbu International. The article, along with a few comments from viewers following the news story, is found here on the KSL website. We recognize that there are many hardships in every community around the world, but we wanted to share Dadob’s comments, as he compares the need in Liberia based on his experience as an American: “I worked with three twenty-something young men from Liberia, while working as a contractor in Iraq. The stories they told me were astonishing. They all spoke about their youth and a common thread came out. They all lived in different villages on the outskirts of Monrovia.The common thread was their childhood and early teens were full of stories about running from the rebels.

By |October 26th, 2012|Liberia, News|6 Comments

Liberian Child Soldiers

Pat: This morning we met with a group of former child soldiers. The horrors they faced and atrocities they committed during Liberia’s 15-year civil war are unimaginable to most Americans. One man told us of a rape he committed when his SBU (small boy unit) attacked a university campus in Monrovia. Years later, the woman he raped spotted him on the street. She spoke out. He ignored her cries. Another man, David, had a more gruesome story to tell. As a child soldier high on heroin and cocaine, David made a bet with a boy in his unit on the sex of a woman’s unborn baby. After killing the woman “with a bullet,” David said he used a bayonet to slice open her stomach. It was a boy, and the man I interviewed won 1,500 Liberian dollars, about $15 U.S. today. He told me that incident remains one of his biggest regrets in life.

The Power of Education – Oretha’s Success Story

It’s essential for parents and families to stress and prioritize education to their children Most children in Liberia grow up in extreme poverty and don’t even know if they will eat that day, let alone go to school. One young lady, Oretha Snyder Davis, shows us how education can change the future and break the poverty cycle. Oretha grew up in Liberia’s Montserado and Nimba Counties. Though her parents did not have much, they valued education and created a good foundation for Oretha and her 12 siblings. Her father died when she was only four years old, but Oretha’s mother raised all her children with a strong sense of core values, discipline and a firm foundation in the Bible. At the age of 18, Oretha completed high school and moved to the city of Monrovia to attend the University of Liberia where she obtained a bachelor’s degree. To pay her way through school, she sought work in the private sector. Oretha spent some time working in the oil industry, in the airline/travel industry, then eventually ended up spending 16 years working for the United Nations.

Lifting Liberia’s Kingdom’s Kids Academy

Thursday, October 17, 2012 Mitch: To start the day out, our driver rear-ended a motorcycle taxi, which lead to a police officer taking his license and wanting a bribe to get it back…so our driver decided hit-and-run was the best option (the motorcyclist wasn’t hurt, nor was his bike damaged…as far as I could tell). Jay: Today was awesome! We were able to go to Kingdom’s Kids Academy to deliver some of the donations to the students. We also handed out the t-shirts we had made for all the students and staff in the school. At one time I helped a little boy in the nursery (preschool) put on his shirt and I couldn’t help hold back the tears I was so happy to be experiencing this at the time. We also passed out the Education Commitment documents and had each child read them. It was a life-changing experience.

A Visit to Bong County

Mitch: Started the day at 4am…we drove 3 hours out to the jungle (Bong Mines is the name of the area), and met with Chinese Mine officials that are supposed to be renovating a school, but aren’t getting it done (they got mining rights in exchange for fixing a road, a school and a hospital…none of which are done). We negotiated to get a town hall meeting next week and to have Lifting Liberia help direct the project. We went to the Bong Mines High School and met with two girls on scholarship with Lifting Liberia. One of them, Roselane, had been taken advantage of by an older man who promised to pay her school fees in exchange for sex (she never got them paid, but she did get two babies…and no way to feed them). The other girl, Fatu, had been making charcoal in the jungle (cut down a tree, chop it into pieces, wrap it in leaves and grass, dig a hole, start a fire in it and drop the tree parts in it…burn for a few days until it’s charcoal…oh, and sleep next to it on the ground all the time so nobody steals it).

Sahbu Officials Working In Liberia to Provide Children with Educational Scholarships

Many children turn to crime and prostitution to afford food, water and an education. Every day in Liberia parents struggle to provide for their children. Education is considered a luxury when most families can’t even afford to put food on the table. Mitch Weight, founder of Sahbu, and his team are currently working in Liberia to further the country’s education and deliver school supplies, clothing and toys. “Without an education you are consigned to crime, prostitution or just working in the streets trying to find something to sell,” Weight said. Sahbu estimates that 60 percent of schoolgirls resort to having sex for cash in order to afford food, water and an education. These girls can be as young as 10 years old and sell themselves for as little as three U.S. cents.

The City

James: The city is an amazing place. I feel like these photos don’t really do it justice. The smells and sounds add so much more than a photo can do. After lunch we visited two girls, Zoe and Baby, in the slums of Monrovia. These two girls, at the age of 5 and 6, go out every day to sell food on the streets. They sell to make money for their family. My son Jack is that same age, and I can’t imagine him working to help support my family. These are the living conditions they live in. Their parents live in the interior of Liberia and sent them to Monrovia because there are more opportunities. They wanted their girls to go to school. The woman that brought them into Monrovia told them that she didn’t have any school opportunities for the girls, but the parents insisted. Now, the children are working to earn the food they eat every day. 5 and 6 years old! Are you kidding me?! They were just two of the dozens of children we met today that were either sent or kidnapped to Monrovia to work.

Interview with A General on a New Path

Mitch Weight’s account on yesterday’s interview: At this very moment we are on our way to interview General Butt Naked, admitted war criminal turned pastor, senator and presidential candidate. He slaughtered over twenty thousand people during the war and now he’s dedicated to rebuilding Liberia. I’m terrified…and excited. Here’s a picture of Pat and General Butt Naked:

By |October 17th, 2012|Liberia|2 Comments