Liberia Before and After the War
By: Sr. Linda Alviar, FMM’s
Liberia Land of the Free!
Over a hundred years ago the USA teamed with millions of black slaves who had been snatched from their homeland in Africa. Many of this slaves longed to go back to Africa. In 1882, two ships: the Elizabeth and the Nautilus arrived on the West coast of Africa filled with freed or run-away slaves on their long journey home. Thus was born Liberia- the land of free. It is here in Liberia that Sr. Tripila Adre, Sr. Lourdes Linda Alviar FMM Filipino missionaries, and their co- sisters struggle to bring about the beginning of the Kingdom of God.
I received this article just before the war broke out and I felt it was inappropriate to publish it at that time. Now the war is over, we publish it and a post-war article by Sr. Alviar. Many thanks to these brave and indefatigable women. [Editor]
Before the War
We are four Filipino Franciscan missionaries here in Liberia.
My mission is in Monrovia, the capital city. Being a secretary to our provincial superior is my primary apostolate but I have the joy of having a sideline in our in our all girls school, St. Therese convent. I teach Christian Living to the 9th graders and do some parish work on Sundays by coordinating and supervising the volunteer catechists in our cathedral parish.
Sr. Presentacion Valderrama is in Sanniquellie working among the women in the towns and villages. She helps to upgrade women in the different aspect of their life, educate them to be self-reliance to be more secure, thus raising their standard of living and affirming the dignity of women.
Sr. Linda Alviar is in Cbarnga working among the women to help them improve important aspects of home and family. She aims to train women to assess their own family situation with a view to discovering the human and natural resources within the family. She also educates the women on child care, health, hygiene, sanitation, nutrition, food production, preparation and the storage. She also teaches them homecraft skills and sewing.
After the War
Sister Linda Alviar tells us about trying to put things together again:
At present I’m back now in Liberia. I was their during the war and then went for a year renewal. I found a new photo, spared from our things, taken before the war when I was working with the women’s development program in the villages. One photo shows the condition of the road during rainy season and the other a communal effort among the women to pound and clean their rice. Since the war there are a lot of restrictions; we can’t keep a camera or any other means for mass media. Our mission now is to enable the people to build a life which is free from hunger, diseases, premature death; a life free from ignorance and which allows them to renew the face of the earth- a lot of rebuilding, reconciliation and forgiveness! The attitudes of the people have now changed; even the attendance at Church has increased. Some of the people had fled to neighboring places like Guinea, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Sierra Leone. Now they are starting to come back and do their farming. The political situation is still unstable. No government. Two people ruling the country-election is still in the process. The people trying to plant the seed to nourish it and bring it to life.
At Saturday Mass the people participant fully in the liturgy; they take the initiative to sing and read their own way. One Sunday the reader stood up and said to the congregation: “The first reading is taken from the Book of Revelation “and at the end of the reading he said: “this is the end of the World” and the Congregation answered: Thanks be to God!
A group of Carmelite Sister had a plan to purchase a car. There was big discussion in the convent as to what patron saint to give to the car. A bright young Sister answered “St. Bernadette Subaru.” (Subaru is the kind or model of car they have).
Sr. Magdalena Florentino has been here for almost 25 years and she is now in Yekepa as principal of the St. Joseph Grade School.
After these sisters wrote a terrible civil war broke out in Liberia which has torn the country apart, devastated the towns and laid waste the land. The sisters are now bravely trying to pick up the pieces. The second article arrived only recently after the war. (Editor)