Foreign Language Instruction Should Begin In The Kindergarten.Do You Agree My Liberian Story From Monrovia Liberia

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My Liberian Story From Monrovia Liberia

My story is a mixture of here and there. Before we can understand the history of an individual, it is important to have a history of the events that contributed to the creation of that history. I am a twenty six year old Liberian male living in St. Cloud, MN. I am from Bong County, Liberia and Kpelle by tribe. I was born in Kakata, Margibi County. I have lived most of my life in Liberia, Ghana and the United States.

Growing up knowing nothing but the sounds of different guns, they all started in 1989 when former President Charles Taylor launched a military revolution against the government of former President Samuel Doe. He was only five years old then. Many people believe that President Doe was not treating every tribe fairly in his government. He was accused of corruption, killing innocent people, having more people from his tribe (Krahn) in the government and so the other tribes were under represented. Therefore, some saw Charles Taylor as a liberator while others saw him as a problem. Many people believe that Taylor was supported by many international leaders. One of those leaders was Muammar Qaddafi of Libya (Pham, John-Peter. Liberia Portrait of a failed State, 2004). There are different perspectives on the cause of the civil war.

The theological perspective believes that the war is a punishment from God for all the sins Liberians have committed against Him. The political perspective believes that the war is the result of the failure of the Liberian government to respond to the legitimate demands of the Liberian people. Others believe that war was an end product of power struggles (Adedeji, Adebayo, ed. Comprehending and mastering African conflicts, 1999). For whatever reason, the war had a great effect on me personally.

When the war started, I lived with my grandparents in Kakata. My father and mother were in the capital of Monrovia, attending university. My parents and I separated because there was no way to return to Kakata. My grandparents and the rest of the family fled from Kakata to a village in Margibi County, at the bottom of Gibi Mountain. We walked more than three hundred miles. I walked by myself and when I was tired, my grandfather carried me on his shoulders. My cousins ​​and I, in turn, were carried on my grandfather’s shoulders. When night came, we slept in the forest with other displaced people who fled their homes. We ate roots and leaves of various plants, some of which we did not know.

Upon arrival in a strange village, my grandfather, older cousins ​​and uncles all went into the bush to cut some tree branches to build a mud house for us to live in. They built a four-room mud house for the family. Our family was more than forty in number, so we had to manage the little space we had to live. We did not stay at home during the day for fear of being harassed by the rebels. If you are male captured by the rebels, they will make you their worker; on the other hand women/females. Therefore, we hide in the bushes during the day and come to sleep in the mud house at night. The families who lived in the village took turns watching the rebels at night. We were very scared at night and could not sleep well because of that. When they alerted us that the rebels had arrived, everyone had to run and hide in the bushes.

There was not enough food to feed us and the water we drank was not safe to drink. No clothes, no shoes, no toys, no story books, nothing that a child my age would need was available to me when I was growing up. We lived in the bush/village until my cousin’s father got sick and died in 1993. All this time, we did not know the whereabouts of my parents. In early 1994, one of my uncles finally located us after looking for us for more than a year. He informed us that he and my mother escaped to Ghana on a ship that came to take Ghanaians back to their country when the war started in 1989. He said that our uncle who lived in New York gave him a little money to come and find us.

We left shortly after his arrival in the village. We start again another long walk from the country to (Ivory Coast) a country bordering Liberia; which is five hundred plus miles away. It took weeks to get to the border, but we finally got there. Grandpa was sick and had to be carried on my uncle’s shoulder. At the time he was only ten years old. I have no school; nothing at all since the war broke out. We got on a bus from the Ivory Coast border to Ghana where I met my mother for the first time in five years. A month after our arrival in Ghana, my grandfather died after a long illness. He was buried in the Buduburam Refugee Camp cemetery in Ghana in 1994.

Starting my life as a refugee in Ghana was another big chapter in my life. I can admit that life in the Buduburam Refugee Camp was much better than what I had known in the bush. There was clean water and food was sometimes provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). I remember being so excited just to see the white UN trucks loaded with rice, beans, oil, sweet energy biscuits, milk powder and other high protein foods. Our uncle in New York also sent money consistently for the family to buy food and supplies.

When the refugee came, I started school for the first time in 1994 at the age of ten. I was the oldest in my class because it is not common to see a ten-year-old boy in kindergarten. Although I was sometimes made fun of by some of the children, I was determined to graduate from kindergarten by any means necessary. Once I settled into school and made new friends, I started living a normal life. Of course, there were also challenges in the Refugee Camp. He could not understand the native Ghanaian language. My cousins ​​and I had to sell goods to raise money and do other things to help the family, and we were forced to learn the native language to make a profit.

The story of little Handfull Saydee told by her aunt Jarteh told about some of the tragic things that happened in the refugee camp. Handfull’s mother fled the civil war in Liberia while pregnant with her. His mother and father separated as he ran away. His mother died shortly after giving birth due to complications and the lack of good health facilities in the refugee camp. Handfull now lives in New York with his aunt, who is his legal guardian, in the United States (Heydarpour, Roja. “From the Ravages of War in West Africa, 5-Year-Old Orphan Starts Over With Aunt’s Help.” Lexisnexis.com 10 Jan 2006.) Like little Handfull, I also lived in the refugee camp, until 1998 when my mother and I were lucky enough to return to Liberia.

Life in Liberia was a little better. There were peacekeepers from other countries and they had just had a presidential election that elected Charles Taylor as the Head of State. I finally got a chance to get to know my father and started to build a relationship with him. When I returned to Liberia, it was in the sixth grade. I started school in Monrovia and after one year, I asked my father to send me to a boarding school outside Monrovia. My friend and I had planned to attend the internship together the following year in September 1999. My father worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as a project manager for Phelps Stores. He agreed to provide tuition fees so that I could retire. Life was going well until the year 2000, when another bloody civil war was launched against the rule of Charles Taylor by Liberia United for Reconciliation and Democracy; a rebel group that accused Taylor of being a dictator.

This war left Liberians thinking they had nowhere else to go, once again. When the war was near Monrovia, I came home from school. In 2003, war reached Monrovia and we had no choice but to flee again to Ghana. Upon arrival in Ghana in 2003, my father rented a house for our family and went to the United States to resettle there, and then sent for my brothers and I. I was able to finish my high school in Ghana and we joined our parents in the country. United States of America in 2004. Since my arrival in the United States, life has gotten a little better over time. I lived in Philadelphia for a year and moved to St. Cloud to continue my education.

Although I wasn’t able to have a normal childhood because of the civil war in my country, I believe that the war helped me see life outside the box. I, like many young Liberians in the United States, have come to the realization that war is not the answer to any problem. It just destroys things that took years of hard work to build. Sometimes people wonder why I’m twenty-six years old and still in college. I don’t blame anyone for what I went through and all I can say is, “It’s part of my story.” Although I was forced to flee my country, I had the opportunity to learn the cultures of other countries; that alone is a great learning experience. I also made a lot of good friends while living in Ghana. Some of these friends have had a big impact on my life and we will be friends for a long time. I met people from almost all parts of the world. Moving to the United States was a life-changing experience for me.

I try not to just focus on the negatives of the war because it will make me blame others for my situation. I believe that I am still young and have the potential to reach my peak in life. Whatever that peak is, I don’t know but God knows. I would like to go back to Liberia to help those less fortunate. Liberia is not like it was before the war, but if we, the young people of Liberia, can try to get some education while living here, we can make a big difference in the lives of many Liberians back home. It’s my story and it’s up to me to make an impact.

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