Adam Welti

Adam Welti (Skills and Agricultural Development Services - SADS): Adam is from Plainview, Minnesota. He did his undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota where he focused on environment and natural resource science. Adam then worked as an English language assistant at a high school in Saint Dizzier, France. His interest in North and West Africa grew after he spent two years in Morocco as a Peace Corps Volunteer working in the area of natural resource management and community development. At the time of his fellowship he was studying for a Masters degree in international environment and resource policy at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.



A fragile, hopeful peace

09 Jun

As we rode in a bus bound for Cape Coast, Ghana, site of a former slave-trading fort, my friend Carly pointed out the Liberian refugee camp as we passed. The camp, located on the outskirts of Accra, Ghana, was one of many camps established during the 14-year civil war that claimed an estimated 300,000 Liberian lives. At the time, I did not realize the many connections this camp would have with my work in Liberia.

Having arrived in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, after visiting Ghana for one week, I quickly came to see just how fragile the peace is here. As our plane landed, I noticed a dozen UN helicopters as well as UN emblazoned trucks and various supplies locked in a secure compound just near the country’s international airfield. It was a sobering sight, but one that reminds me that the international community has acted so as to provide a security force in the country.

Currently I am staying with a host family in Monrovia. My host brother Joscee spent nearly 15 years in Ghana, from the time he was a young child until just a few years ago. His mother and six sisters had to quickly leave the country as the fighting moved toward the capital.

While most of the refugees in Ghana have returned to Liberia, or decided to establish a new home for themselves in Ghana, some families remain at the camp.

The peace in Liberia is fragile, largely due to the fact that many former combatants are now living amongst those who fled. The challenge has been developing employment opportunities for this largely young population.

My work with Skills and Agricultural Development Services (SADS) will be focusing on helping rural communities claim their rights and find means of income, so as to mitigate the challenges posed by deforestation. As the civil conflict occurred throughout the country, this work will hopefully also contribute to creating a sustainable means to development while forging a new means of peace.

As families begin to rebuild their lives, and often, quite literally, their homes, I think back to the incredible challenge life in a refugee camp must have been. The optimism that I see in Liberians is humbling given the atrocities they have seen and challenging life they have lived. I look forward to a fruitful collaboration with SADS and rural communities. Hopefully our work will create a positive way forward for the communities with whom we work.

Posted By Adam Welti

Posted Jun 9th, 2009

230 Comments

  • Laura Gordon

    June 17, 2009

     

    Hi – really like the blog, I think Liberia’s fascinating and has a fair bit in common with Burundi so I’ll look forward to reading more – also saw this (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/8092112.stm) on the beeb about surf tourism in Liberia and thought you might find it interesting – plus something to do while you’re there, if you can brave the rips!

  • Asta

    June 20, 2009

     

    Adam, I didn’t realize the organization you are working for has “ag” in their name! As a a former Peace Corps volunteer, I should have know. I imagine Liberia, like most developing countries, is mainly agrarian outside of the major cities. You should contact my adviser, Dan Maxwell, at the Friedman School. He might have some helpful connections and resources for your project! Stay healthy & safe!

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