Liberia’s civil war ended in 2003 after fourteen bloody years that left the country in shatters.
I was born during the fifteen-year long Lebanese civil war and grew up witnessing my country’s imperfect reconstruction process. Twenty years after the end of our war, this process has resulted in a deeply unequal society and a government chronically unable to provide basic services to its citizens, even as Lebanon now classifies as a middle-income country.
Liberia is now firmly transitioning from emergency humanitarian aid to development planning. The coming years are crucial in setting the country on the track of permanent peace and sustainable development.
The election of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for President in 2006 marked the start of a new era of hope. Affectionately dubbed the “Iron Lady”, Ma Ellen is the first ever democratically elected female head of state in Africa. A visionary leader, Harvard graduate, incorruptible, President Sirleaf earned widespread respect for her courageous opposition to previous undemocratic regimes (which even included a stay in jail). She is one of the most remarkable and effective leaders in the world today; and is up for reelection this October 2011.
Since 2007, in response to a calling by Johnson-Sirleaf herself, a small group of students spend their summer in various ministries hoping to contribute to Liberia’s development.
Rebuilding is no easy task. But if it keeps going on the same track, Liberia promises to become a fascinating case study for the way good governance and sound policies can deliver development in a post-conflict setting. Getting to witness a small part of it is an exciting prospect!
Days to landing in Monrovia: 3!