Success story: Promoting peace in Liberia

U.S. Ambassador to Liberia John W. Blaney visited with CHF International staff members in Voinjama City of Lofa County, Liberia on May 5, 2005 to examine how the organization's Locally Initiated Networks for Community Strengthening (LINCS) program is facilitating conflict resolution and promoting peace. CHF International has been working in the country's Lofa and Nimba counties since May 2004 to build peace and stability, after years of civil conflict left the nation devastated. The LINCS program is working in 70 communities, empowering local citizens to better manage conflict and prevent emerging disputes.
During his visit in Voinjama, Ambassador Blaney met and interacted with members of Community Peace Councils (CPCs) from four communities. The CPCs, implemented by CHF International, consist of ordinary men and women in the community who are in charge of intervening when disputes arise, and sensitizing community members to potential future disputes, especially those associated with the return of refugees and internally displaced people.

The Ambassador heard from different members of the CPCs about the work they are doing to achieve lasting peace in their communities, and how the LINCS program has been building their capacity to resolve conflict before it spirals out of control.

"The Ambassador's visit to Voinjama makes us feel that our hard work towards peace in our community is not in vain," said a member of the CPC from Barkedu, Voinjama."After this visit, the Ambassador will understand how CHF is working hard to bring the people of Lofa County together," said another member of the CPC from Betejama, Voinjama.

Ambassador Blaney congratulated members of the CPCs for their work in maintaining stability in their communities, and encouraged them to carry on the mission of promoting peace in Lofa, and throughout Liberia. Ambassador Blaney also encouraged members of the CPCs to register to vote, so they can select a president who will build schools, clinics, hospitals and roads for the Liberian people.He stressed that that every Liberian, regardless of their ethnic group, should have the right to register to vote.

At the end of the meeting, the Ambassador presented LINCS Program Director, Judith St. Fort, with a soccer ball as a symbol of peace, and then left eight more soccer balls to be distributed to different CPCs.