Since 1933, the IRC has provided hope and humanitarian aid to refugees and other victims of oppression and violent conflict around the world.
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Thanks to all who voiced support for U.S. #CIR! What your calls on the Senate immigration reform bill achieved: t.co/z5OAvG7uFs
May 24, 2013
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May 24, 2013
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May 24, 2013
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May 23, 2013
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May 23, 2013
VOICES FROM THE FIELDTHE IRC BLOG
May 13, 2008
|Photo: Emily Holland/The IRC|
|Have you ever traveled to a place that couldn't be farther from home, but where you felt an instant connection? For me, that place is Liberia. I first visited Liberia in July, 2006. The World Cup soccer tournament was underway. Driving into Monrovia from the airport on my first night in the country, I saw small clusters of people watching the match on generator-powered TV sets. Otherwise, the city was completely dark. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberia's newly elected president had promised to restore electricity to parts of the chronically power deprived capital city. For now, the lights were still off. My journey though Liberia however, was eye-opening and energizing. I interviewed former child soldiers who had only recently put down their weapons. The IRC was teaching them skills such as carpentry and auto mechanics that would help reintegrate them into civilian life. Many of them hoped to open their own shops someday and were eager to play a part in building a new Liberia. I met young children who only a short time earlier were selling sand, firewood, and plastic bags of water on the street for a pittance. Now, thanks to the IRC, they were in school and dreaming big dreams. One twelve-year-old girl wanted to grow up to be the second woman president of Liberia. A thirteen-year-old boy declared he would be the first Liberian to walk on the moon. In rural Lofa County, a remote region of Liberia about a day's drive from Monrovia, I watched a youth group perform a skit they had written to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. Women's and men's groups, called "action groups," and sponsored by the IRC, performed plays and songs about women's rights. Their message: rape and domestic violence, major problems in post-war Liberia, would not be tolerated. I also visited many IRC-supported small businesses. My favorite was a shop that taught women to tie-die fabric in fabulous colors and designs and then helped the women sell the fabric at markets or in their own shops. On this, my second trip to Liberia, I'll be traveling to Nimba County, in the north of the country. Nimba County is where former dictator Charles Taylor, who is now on trial for war crimes at The Hague, forced many children to join his army and abducted women and girls to become sex slaves. There, I'll be exploring and writing about the IRC's efforts to assist Liberians who were displaced during the fifteen-year long civil war. I'll visit a clinic, a school, a radio station, and an agricultural project, among other IRC initiatives. Whether it is treating patients, educating children, or helping small businesses get on their feet, the IRC is working with Liberians to create a better future for their families and their country. I'm also going to Liberia with a special mission in mind: to meet and listen to Liberian teenagers who have been through so much and then to bring their stories back to teenagers in America. In this ever smaller world, being able to share our different experiences and cultures is more important than ever. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to taking this exciting journey with you. Read all of Emily's posts from Liberia here.|