In 2008 AFA member and enthusiastic supporter Saran Kaba Jones launched FACE Africa, a non profit organization that works toward transforming impoverished communities in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The young organization has already raised an estimated $75,000 to support these communities by helping to provide access to clean water and sanitation, education and training, as well as health and nutritional programs.
Saran is currently in Liberia where she is beginning to work on FACE Africa’s second clean water and sanitation project in partnership with Concern Worldwide. She is also there to prepare the kick off a women’s empowerment project.
We at All for Africa have been following Saran on her twitter page http://twitter.com/sarankjones to keep up with her latest endeavors. We are amazed at how connected she is in Liberia which has limited connectivity. In case you have not been kept up to date… we thought that we would fill you in on her trip thus far: Saran landed in Monrovia on Wednesday, July 28th eager to take advantage of her limited time in Liberia. With only one major international airline flying into Monrovia (SN Brussels), the trip from Boston took exactly 26 hours with stops in New York, Brussels, and Ghana. “after 24 hours of traveling, finally made it into monrovia safe & sound. With only a week here, gotta hit the ground running tomorrow!”
Saran noted that she was happy to be home despite the difficult socio-economic situation, “it’s always so good 2 eb home despite the lack basic necessities like running water, electricity, good roads, access to job opportunities.” She went on to optimistically point out, “but the people here, despite the 15+ years of war & hardship have simple needs and huge hearts. And lots of hope for a better future for liberia.”
On Thursday, July 29th Saran met with Liberian-American entrepreneur Chid Liberty who founded the Liberian Women Sewing Project to empower and employ women. The factory located in Monrovia currently manufactures tshirts for clients in the U.S. She remarked on her day “yesterday was such a productive day! Had an amazing time touring the sewing factory and meeting the man behind it all Chid Liberty.” The plan is to create a partnership with LWSP for a tshirt line that will be marketed and sold in the U.S. with proceeds going to fund FACE Africa’s clean water, health, education and other social programs.
Saran continued her busy week on Friday, July 30th and met with the Deputy Minister of Lands, Mines & Energy with Marc Frankel, a Fletcher/ Tufts University graduate student who’s interning with her father at the Land Commission. The Land Commission is a newly created government agency established to deal with land management and to help tackle some of the many conflicts or issues from land and land sale in Liberia. In the evening, she attended a reception at the U.S. Embassy with her friend Arthur, who’s here in Liberia from U.S. Airforce to develop, train and mentor the Arm Forces of Liberia (AFL) legal program. She concluded her day having Sushi with some friends at the Mamba Point Hotel and raved about the food and atmosphere.
Saturday, July 31st was field trip day. Saran explored both rural and urban areas with her father, brother and the Broadcove team, “today was another humbling day, visited an urban village with no access 2 clean water, clinic or school.” She visited a site for her upcoming clean water project and hung out with some of the children from the area (see the adorable picture!) FACE Africa will be partnering with Concern Worldwide to install a handpump, construct a latrine and handwashing facilities and also conduct education sessions on proper hygiene and sanitation. The project is expected to begin on September 1st.
Saran finally got the opportunity to relax a bit on Sunday, August 1st when she took a drive to Robertsport, located in Grand Cape Mount Country, about 2.5 hours from Monrovia. The town is featured in the independent documentary film, “Sliding Liberia”, which follows four young surfers to war-torn Liberia in search of perfect waves and is home to Nana’s Lodge. Saran writes, “had a relaxing day today at the beach in robertsport with friends. this place will make an amazing tourist destination when rebuilt.”
After a rough night’s sleep, (“it’s 4am here and I was woken up by something crawling around my suitcase…. Ps: there’s no electricity so I can’t just get up & turn the light on to figure out what it is. Just have to stay up for 3hrs until daylight”), Saran carried on with her visit speaking at a youth workshop organized by NuVision Pac, an organization founded by fellow Liberian Benjamin Sanvee to empower and train young Liberian men and women to become agents of change in their communities. She attended the workshop with Emmett, the young man who is the inspiration behind her efforts and FACE Africa. Prior to that, she visited Kakata, the 3rd largest city in Liberia and later on a 10-acre plot of land that she recently purchased in the Marshall area.
Today (August 3rd) Saran was in Joezohn village Liberia “laying ground work for FACE Africa’s clean water site.” She then went on to attend a meeting with the Deputy Minister of Gender to discuss the needs and challenges facing Liberian girls and women and how FACE Africa can help address some of those needs.
It is safe to say that Saran is most definitely taking advantage of her (very brief) time in Liberia as she prepares to launch FACE Africa’s second clean water and sanitation project as well as a women’s empowerment project. We are proud of you Saran for the work that you have done, the work you continue to do and the awareness you have raised! We look forward to hearing from you when you return to Liberia in October.
By, Meredith FitzPatrick