Producer Megan Thompson just returned from reporting in Liberia, where she encountered daily reminders of the country’s civil war as Liberia emerges from its past.
In Liberia, we listened to many stories of the 14-year civil war, but we also found stories we didn’t ask for: The hostess whose mother was killed, the driver who said he once painted his face with blood, the government intern whose family was almost slaughtered because a wall surrounded their home (soldiers thought that meant they were rich).
The civil war ended six years ago, but it tore apart this small West African nation. From the balcony of my hotel in downtown Monrovia, I looked out at the former executive mansion — now a shattered shell of a building, pocked with bullet marks and surrounded by trash.
The hotel owner told us that while he fortunately fled to his native Lebanon, about 100 people moved into the hotel to seek refuge from the fighting. That night in my dimly lit room, serenaded by the car horns and cacophony of the streets below, I wondered: Who was hiding in my room? What were their war stories?
Liberia is slowly pulling itself back on its feet and rebuilding. But everywhere you go, fragments of the fighting remain. Under the leadership of President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, electricity and water are being restored, schools are being built and Liberians everywhere are trying to find a way forward, away from the past.
In another sign of change, a brand new luxury resort has just opened on the outskirts of Monrovia. One night at the shiny new bar, the bartender tells us about his mother, also dead. He studies the drink recipe book intently, serious about learning this new trade, and talks about trying to make a future for himself: “You just have to move on.”
– Megan Thompson
Watch for Worldfocus’ upcoming series on Liberia in the coming weeks.