'Association for People's Empowerment was the first NGO to arrive here after we returned,' said the Regent Chief Momoh Lahai.
Brima Jina, a rice farmer said: 'When I returned to Jojoima the rice fields were just one big forest. It was so strong that my sons and I were not able to clear it. I decided to switch to Inland Valley Swamp rice but I didn't have any seeds. We came back here with nothing'.
APEM worked with the farmers to form themselves into groups of 60 people. Each group was then given 300,000 leones (=A393) to buy seeds, tools and food for work. Brima's group bought nine bushels of rice seed, 12 big hoes and bulgar wheat.
They divided the work amongst themselves and even decided to fine work defaulters 1,000 leones because they were so desperate for the rice to be planted.
'Living conditions were terrible when we came back to Jojoima. My house had no doors as the rebels had stolen them and I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Lack of food was a major problem for us', said Brima. 'But soon we'll have rice to eat. And we'll divide the rest into rice to sell and rice to keep for seed. This will help my family to get back on its feet but it will also contribute to the development of the town. We want to rehabilitate the local school and build a guesthouse to raise funds.'