Children standing on street corners begging for food, or money for food. Young people who should be in school peddling wares in the streets to earn money to purchase enough rice or beans to feed their siblings for the day’s meal. Prostitutes, many in their teens, trying to earn enough to prevent their family from starving. These are common sights in Liberia today.
Children are always the ones most affected by lack of basic healthcare and nutrition, resulting in high infant mortality rates, susceptibility to disease, and physical disabilities resulting from malnutrition and lack of preventive healthcare. Thirty-two percent of Liberian children under age five experience stunting, which not only affects height but negatively affects brain function, development of organs, and weakens the immune system; the ramifications are lifelong, yet can be easily prevented with proper nutrition. Families are heartbroken as they are forced daily to view the results of poverty on their children, yet they often struggle even to provide the next meal, much less a nutritious one.
Liberian Farms Are Under-Developed
Even though Liberia is well suited to farming, most farmers cannot afford machinery, and most farm work is done by hand. Instead of having a surplus of food, which the land could provide if properly farmed, there is barely enough to feed the workers. Very little livestock is raised in Liberia, with 80% of the protein people eat coming from fish. Sadly, even the availability of fish has been reduced by climate change and recent flooding. These factors add up to a sobering fact: in a country with rich agricultural lands, more than half the food must be imported, raising the price of food for a people already struggling to survive.
In order to prevent the ravaging effects of hunger, the Ri’ayah foundation has been collecting and distributing food, as well as medical supplies, clothes and hygiene products, to the homeless and the needy in Liberia for over three years. Our goal is to better the livelihood of families by providing them with the basic needs. We believe that by introducing more successful farming practices and providing needed tools and supplies to grow their own food, Liberians will be better able to provide food for their own families.
Community Gardens to Feed the Villages
Liberians already practice a traditional kuu system, in which neighbors plant or harvest crops at one farm, then the next family’s farm, and so on, until the crops are all taken care of. Even weeding of crops is taken care of communally in this manner. One of Ri’ayah’s goals is to buy community garden plots for neighboring farmers to work, and encourage existing ones, providing seed, equipment and training so people are able to feed their families themselves. In a country decimated by civil wars and Ebola, orphaned children and broken families cannot survive independently, and struggle together to provide food for newly formed extended families. Besides providing tools and materials for raising crops, volunteers will train individuals and communities to use available farming techniques and water sources to the best advantage. Our goal is for community gardens to provide easily grown food staples, thus reducing the dependence of families and individuals on outside aid and improving their nutrition, health, independence, and self-esteem. As farming practices improve and people become adept at raising crops, we hope to help them become not only self-supporting, but able to raise surplus crops to sell at profit to raise their annual income and enable them to afford better healthcare and education to break the cycle of poverty.
Join us in helping to bring a positive change to the lives of the poor and the needy! Let your donations grow…from seeds into meals and education for hardworking people who desperately want to help themselves, but need a little extra help from caring individuals like you.