Liberia is the only country in Africa founded by United States colonization while occupied by native Africans. The colonists and their descendants, known as Americo-Liberians, led the political, social, cultural and economic sectors of the country and ruled the nation for over 130 years.
In 1980 a military coup overthrew the Americo-Liberian leadership, marking the beginning of political and economic instability and two successive civil wars. These resulted in the deaths of approximately 250,000 people and devastated the country’s economy. A peace agreement in 2003 led to democratic elections in 2005.
From March 2014 to May 2105, Liberia experienced an Ebola epidemic resulting in over 10,500 cases and over 4,800 deaths. Liberia was officially declared Ebola free on May 9, 2015.
Today, Liberia is recovering from the effects of the civil wars, Ebola outbreak, and their consequent economic upheaval. About 85% of Liberians are unemployed. There are no electric, gas or water networks, no landline phone or internet infrastructure, and only a limited network of paved roads, most in need of significant repair.
While in Liberia, I encountered hospitality, gratitude and faithfulness despite overwhelming hardships. I met soldiers who had traded their guns for tools so they could build school desks for children. I met doctors, hospital administrators and staff committed to public health and well being. I met men and women of faith providing education and hope. I met children eager to laugh and a people eager to overcome cultural differences. I encountered belief – in an unlimited future and in God who is good all the time.