SOS Children in Liberia
Liberia is one of Africa’s poorest countries, suffering from high poverty levels and deep trauma following two long-lasting civil wars. Mass unemployment also blights the nation, and poor infrastructure makes day-to-day life a struggle. SOS Children is helping the next generation of Liberians to create a better future.
You can help us support orphaned and abandoned children in Liberia by sponsoring a child with SOS Children:
A nation ravaged by conflict
The Liberian civil war destroyed the country's infrastructure and exacerbated crippling poverty among Liberia's population. In the countryside, 93% of people rely on water from untreated sources, such as rivers, swamps and latrines, and thousands remain without any access to water at all. As many as 31% of Liberians are undernourished. In 2014, the nation's already fragile health services were left buckling under the pressure of the nation's first Ebola outbreak. The disease killed health professionals and drew resources away from other healthcare challenges.
340,000 orphans grow up alone
- During the war, young people were worst affected and thousands were recruited as child soldiers. Many children were orphaned or killed.
- 340,000 Liberian children are now growing up without a mother or father.
- Some areas lack medical centres and schools. Many were destroyed during the war and have never been rebuilt. The average Liberian receives less than four years of schooling, whilst the illiteracy rate amongst Liberians aged over 15 is approaching half.
- Whilst the current government is attempting to revive the education system, many schools still struggle to admit all the children in their community.
- Many families do not have enough to eat and one in five Liberian children is underweight.
Our Work in Liberia
We established our first community in Liberia in 1981 in Matadi, a district of the capital Monrovia, close to the international airport. The community has fifteen family houses, which are home to 150 children, and a youth house for the older boys. Because of the shortage of schools in the area, an SOS Primary and Secondary School was established next to the village in 1984 for both the SOS children and children from the neighbourhood. The Village nursery also caters for local families, with room for over 100 children.
A second SOS Children's Village opened in 2000 in Juah Town in Bassah county in northern Liberia. The Village has six family houses, a nursery and a primary and secondary school but had to be evacuated in May 2003 because of the fighting and the children and staff moved to the village in Monrovia. Both the school and the nursery remain closed.
In June 2003 a short term emergency relief programme was established for over 7000 refugees from the fighting in the SOS Children's site in Monrovia, providing food and temporary accommodation. An SOS emergency medical centre was set up and, as well as medical care, is providing supplementary feeding programmes for undernourished children.
Life in SOS Children's Villages Liberia
31-year-old Janyea proudly says she's a former SOS child from Liberia. After a struggling start in life, SOS Children's Villages Liberia gave her the opportunities and care every child deserves. Today, she's a newly married, happy and active woman.
“I was born on 26 July 1979. My father died in 1980 and left my mother with nine children. She was just a house wife and couldn't afford to take care of us, so she asked our uncles and aunts to help her take care for us and that's how we were divided. One of my sisters and I moved in with our aunt to Nimba County, another county of Liberia.
When we got to Nimba, our aunt managed to register us in school but it was not easy: we used to walk long distances to get to school and had no lunch on our way back because she couldn’t afford it. There came a time we had to drop from school because she could no longer afford to pay our tuition.
One day in 1986, as we were playing in front of our house, we saw an SOS Children's Village vehicle stopping by with some people in it. They got down and asked us why we were not in school and with whom we were living. I told them my aunt's name and mentioned the place where she worked and they left.
A week after, the SOS vehicle was back to pick us up and take us to our new home. Our aunt had packed our few clothes and offered us a prayer. I was so happy because things were not easy for us at our aunt's place.
We came to the SOS Children’s Village of Monrovia in November 1986 and were introduced to our new SOS mother, brothers and sisters. We were ten children in our house. I remember being so happy arriving in the village, seeing the playground area and the toys in the house. I was eating three times a day; I was going to school and received lots of good things.
I graduated from high school on 24 July 2000 and was admitted at Cuttington University the same year as a boarding student, to study public administration [my major] and management. By 2004, I was the proud holder of a B.Sc degree in public administration and had, in the meantime, met on campus my husband to be, Gabriel!
I then started to work for SOS Children's Villages Liberia as a bookkeeper. That was in 2005. I've recently married and must say it was one of the most memorable days of my life! It was so emotional to have my father (Mr. James Ponpon, the director of SOS Children's Village Monrovia) bringing me to my husband to be in the church and seeing all the SOS mothers and 'aunties' spreading their lappers [pieces of traditional cloth] on the floor for me to walk on as it is the tradition here, as well as seeing all other SOS employees dancing and congratulating me. I was so excited and felt proud to be part of such a big family!
SOS Children's Villages Liberia has played a very important part in my life in so many ways. They gave me good home, love, care and security; they gave me a very good education and also made me an independent person in the society. I can also say SOS is the one that gave me a husband because they are the one who prepared me to be who I am today. Those qualities that SOS Children's Villages Liberia put in me is what my husband saw and what decided him to take me as his wife. Now I am married, educated, and working for SOS Children's Villages Liberia as the 'Resettled Youth Educator'. Twenty-five years ago, I would never even though that this would be possible!”
SOS Children's Villages of LiberaPO Box 1924
Tel: +231/886514878, +231/886514879