We have been so moved by all the support we have received for Painting Peace, our project to help rescue, clothe, feed, educate, and reform child soldiers. The generous donations we have received will change lives. Friends, family, coworkers, local businesses, and even children, have rallied around the cause. One donation that came in today, particularly impressed us. We think you will give it a “thumbs up,” as well. Meet Sheri Sveen. Sheri, a smoker of many years, has recently decided that it’s time to quit. As an important part of her resolve, she gives the money she saves on tobacco products to a charitable cause. The most recent cause she has chosen to support is our painting peace campaign. Sheri is making a big difference in her own life as well as helping to take kids in Liberia off the street, feed them, educate them, and break their addictions. We are inspired by her effort and would like to offer her our sincerest thanks for her support. Sheri, you are awesome!
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.
If you’ve been following our cause, you are aware of the dire situation Liberian children face, as the country recovers from a 14-year civil war. The war destroyed literally everything, and orphaned hundreds of thousands of children. One of those children was recently rescued from the streets by Karen Mathot, of Lifting Liberia. Yesterday, she shared with us the heartbreaking story of a boy who is five years old, abandoned, hungry, unclothed and unloved. A community member, who said the boy has been wandering the streets for three years, brought him to the school. Reports told that he was dropped in a dumpster at two years old because his parents were unable to provide for him. Karen took the boy home with her to bathe, clothe, and “just love him.” Karen said this is not uncommon. To us, this is unfathomable and heartbreaking.