It was with excitement and some apprehension that I boarded a plane to Liberia, West Africa, one of the poorest countries in the world and a nation that had just come out of 14 years of civil war. Accompanied by Brian Burditt, director of world missions, I had the task of producing this year’s Partners in Mission video and knew The Salvation Army in that country had many challenges.
Life expectancy in Liberia is less than 48 years and malaria, dysentery, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS are serious health concerns. With unemployment in the 85 percent range and the average income being less than one U.S. dollar per day, life in this country of 3.5 million people is a daily struggle to survive.
Driving into Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, one can’t help noticing the nearby UN tanks adjacent to roadside billboards that address issues such as gun amnesty. Few buildings have functioning electricity or water, and what is left of the infrastructure is often in a state of disrepair.
Meeting with The Salvation Army’s command leaders, Majors Robert and Hester Dixon, we were briefed on some of the programs the Army is running in Liberia, with education and health being two of the key focal points. Over the next few days we were taken to several Salvation Army schools, children’s hostels and clinics. I was touched by the extent of the work, knowing that if The Salvation Army didn’t provide many of these services they simply would not exist. One such program is a mobile medical clinic that travels several hours on barely passable dirt roads to provide biweekly health services to remote villages.
The last thing we did before preparing to return home on Sunday was attend a church meeting. It was so full of life, colour and energy that even months later the songs still resonate in my head.
I feel proud being a partner to some amazing work The Salvation Army is doing in Liberia and in our six other partner territories.