Hello everyone, I am Mai, a board member of Diamonds for Peace in Liberia.
A long rainy season starting in May has ended and the hot season is upon us.
By the way, what comes to your mind when you hear “Liberia”?
Ebola, civil war, poverty…etc. You may have negative images for Liberia but did you know that it used to be one of the most developed countries in Africa, with the second highest economic growth rate after Japan in the 1960s?
You can have a glimpse of the country at that period through Decor Palace Hotel, an eight-storied five-star hotel which was built on the top of the hills in the capital Monrovia in the 1960s. Many important people and celebrities visited the hotel which had the best reputation among western African countries until 1989 when it was closed due to the civil war.
During the civil war, which continued for 14 years from 1989 to 2003, everything in the hotel was plundered and destroyed and many illegal habitants took up residence there after the war. In 2008, the Liberian government decided to consign renovation of the hotel to Libyan government. This project proceeded under the Gaddafi regime but it broke down upon his murder.
Many people say that Liberia is no longer on the road to recovery due to the fact that since its civil war, more than 10 years have passed with little change. Yet, I cannot help thinking that it needs many long years to heal the scars of the war, i.e. the many scars that remain everywhere in the city as well as on the inside of most Liberians as symbolized by this hotel.
With most basic infrastructure damaged in the Liberian civil war, challenges to be addressed are piling up, For instance, construction of roads, power plants, health care facilities and schools. These challenges cannot be addressed unless development of human resources who are engaged in the infrastructure rebuilding is affected. Furthermore, many people including medical workers died from Ebola during its outbreak in 2014. Recovery from the Ebola outbreak is also one of the big challenges to overcome. I will make every possible effort for the day to come when I can look at the “new” Liberia from the window of a renovated Decor Palace Hotel.
The first picture: View from the top floor of Decor Palace Hotel, facing West Point, the biggest slum in Liberia.