The Independent on Saturday has published a major magazine article on the plight gruesome situation of young people reduced to living in a disused Monrovia graveyard – and of Street Child’s brave, solitary, attempts to help this often under-represented group.
The article introduces us to a number of these vulnerable young people, including Junior Toe, a veteran tomb dweller. "There was a body there, but I took it out and threw it away," he says, standing on the worn edge of an open tomb, he peers into his second-hand bedroom. The empty space, about two-metres deep, is finished with stained green tiles crossed by vines. "When you look for a tomb, the body can't be too fresh," he advises. "It has to be really dead, then you can clear it away into a bag."
Another, called Mercy, tells us how the cemetery vaults provide better shelter for her than street-living - but that regular police raids undermine that protection. "They come to drag us out – I have scars from where they've beat me or I've run and fallen," she says. "I don't feel safe here. I cross myself before I sleep."
This is a situation that Street Child began working in before Ebola. And as Ebola fades, it is worth remembering that far from every sad situation in Liberia or Sierra Leone is because of Ebola (in fact if anything, more causality flows the other way).
Groups like the tomb-dwellers have had their plights totally forgotten about in the past 12-months – yet their needs are immense. The post-Ebola response needs to be a broad one that does not look just at those most affected by Ebola but all those in the greatest need.
The tomb dwellers are just one such acute ‘non-Ebola’ category – and Street Child are determined to raise funds for, and help, them in 2015.
Read the full article by Gabriella Jozwiak here.