Liberia is a country in West Africa which was founded, established, colonized, and controlled by citizens of the United States and ex-Caribbean slaves as a colony for former African American slaves and their free black descendants. It is bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast. English is the dominant language, and other languages are also spoken, including a unique vernacular based on English, which is described as Pidgin English on steroids. Liberia is a relatively compact and verdant country with a small population of 4 million (2016) and a damp coastal climate with a six-month-long summer and rainy season each.
As is the case with most Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Liberia has suffered for decades because of the absence of sustainable institutions. Without sustainable institutions, even small gains within governmental services are often lost with regime changes. This phenomenon is painfully obvious within the health sector of Liberia in the wake of periods of instability beginning with the 1980 coup d’etat, followed by fourteen years of civil war beginning in 1989.
Much of Liberia’s current socioeconomic situation has been characterized by its recent civil war, which lasted from 1989 to 2003. The war ravaged the country’s infrastructure, economy, and population leaving 50 percent of the population, including the children and youths, in abject poverty. According to the 2010 revision of the World Population Prospects, 53.7 percent of the Liberian population is between 15 and 65 years of age. . The dependency ratio for the total population is 84%, while the dependency ratio for children is 79.3% and that of the elders is 5.6%. Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy estimates that more than 1.3 million people, including the elder population, out of a total of 4 million people are living in extreme poverty today.
This situation was made worst in March, 2014 with the outbreak of the Ebola disease. Following the twin shocks of the 2014/15 outbreak of the Ebola Virus and a global slump in commodity prices, the poverty level of the country increase, leaving many persons destitute, including children. UNICEF reports that 8.5 million Children and young people live in Ebola-affected areas covering Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. In Liberia, it is reported that there are over 4,500 boys and girls across the country who have become orphans, according to Liberia’s Ministry of Gender and Social Protection. These children lost one of both parents and their primary caregiver to the disease. The disease claimed the lives of bread winners in families thus leaving in its wake thousands of orphans and street children. Due to these unfortunate circumstances, these survivors and children living in poverty need assistance from Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), international community and government in a structured manner. The many challenges these children face are educational, health and social support.
It is because of these children that Shepherd’s Heart is working assiduously to bring smiles to their faces and give them hope for a better tomorrow. We are counting on others with a heart to join us in this mission to ensure that these children can reach their full potential despite their psychological and socioeconomic condition.