The inaugural session of the U.S.-Liberia Partnership Dialogue was held in Washington, D.C. on May 7, 2013, with the signing of a joint statement, following a day-long deliberation involving senior government officials of both countries. Held at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Liberia and the United States reached another historical milestone in the relationship between both countries with the signing of a joint statement at the end of the U.S.-Liberia Partnership Dialogue. The Foreign Minister of the Republic of Liberia, His Excellency Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, signed on behalf of Liberia, while Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman, U.S. Department of State Under Secretary for Political Affairs, signed on behalf of the Government of the United States.
Our friend Alex knows the culture, the history, and the streets. He was able to get us anywhere in the country we wanted to go safely but he also lined up interviews for us with anyone we wanted from journalists, reporters, and teen prostitutes, to former child soldiers and people of historical and political significance.
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).
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.
More pictures to come, this is just a small fraction of what was donated. Last Thursday evening, as we finished the workday, more and more people kept driving up to the Sahbu office and the Weight home to drop off bags of school supplies, toys, clothing and blankets. A little over a week ago founder and president of Sahbu, Mitch Weight, sent out a request for school supply donations on his personal Facebook. The result of his request – a continuous flow of supplies and an ultimate showing of extreme generosity. We’ve been told over and over again how the store shelves were cleared to provide Mitch with enough supplies for the many schools he will be visiting next week in Liberia. We are excited that Sahbu officials have made it to Liberia safely with the generously-donated supplies for the schools they will be visiting. Mitch and the Sahbu crew were off to a great start Friday. When they arrived and checked in at the airport, they were greeted with Miracle #1: two extra 70 lb bags full of more school supplies were admitted without additional fees! Kudos Delta Airlines! The men touched down in Liberia late afternoon (our time) on Saturday, October 13. Their itinerary is full as they plan to meet with all the children, their teachers and parents, while handing out the much-needed supplies. They also plan on meeting with local Liberian officials and will be taking video footage as well as personal interviews to share with us upon their return. We want to express our profound appreciation for all who donated to help these children. Your generosity has touched us deeply. We know it will bring hope and a brighter future […]
We have announced it here, we’ve announced it on Facebook and Twitter. Now you can see it on KSL News! Mitch Weight, Sahbu Int’l Founder and President, was interviewed yesterday for their 10pm news spotlight broadcast later that night. Jed Boal spent over an hour yesterday getting footage and interviewing Mitch and his family about his upcoming trip, now just one day away! Check it out here: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=22508196&nid=148&title=utahn-working-to-improve-lives-in-liberia-1-scholarship-at-a-time&s_cid=featured-4 Mitch and the Sahbu team will be providing us with daily updates while they travel next week meeting with the children and parents to whom they are providing scholarships; and local officials. Don’t forget to check in and see what’s happening next week on our blog!
ONLY 3 more days until Mitch Weight and the Sahbu Team embark on their journey to Liberia! The team will spend a week delivering school clothing and supplies, and meeting children and parents who cannot afford education. While in Liberia, Weight said he intends to better his understanding of the hardships faced by many West African youth by meeting with the children and parents he hopes to help. Stay tuned as Mitch will be providing a live daily blog on how the trip is unfolding and the special stories of the people he meets along the way.
For each person who enrolls in college through Sahbu, the organization donates money to educate a child unable to afford an education in Liberia. In Liberia, some estimates show that 80 percent of school girls – some as young as 10 years old – resort to prostitution to help their family because of the high unemployment rates in the war-ravaged country. Many of these girls are unable to afford the $120 needed to attend school and end up getting pregnant at a very young age, furthering the cycle of poverty in the country. Utah-based Sahbu and Lifting Liberia, a nonprofit organization in West Africa, have partnered to change that.
Over the past 3 decades, religious and political differences have divided what otherwise would have been a well developing and flourishing country. Although a relatively young country, declaring its independence in 1847, Liberia has had an uproarious history. Liberia was suppose to be “a little America,” and a “utopia for abolitionists.” In an area estimated to be the size of Tennessee, the country of Liberia lost one third of its population to neighboring countries beginning in 1989, when the civil war broke out; and over a period of 14 years, the warring factions managed to take approximately 250,000 Liberian lives – that’s equivalent to one out of of 17 people.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says one of the main goals of her government is to reduce, if not end, poverty – not simply by increasing a woman’s bottom line … Half the Sky, a New York Times bestseller and recent PBS documentary has produced quite a stir on a global scale. The overarching message was to create awareness and to help establish education and resources for women and children who are not only susceptible to but, often victims of atrocities like maternal mortality, genital mutilation, sex trafficking, forced prostitution and gender-based violence. Liberia is just one country that is facing these problems.