Won’t send me back to square one

Too often, in places like West Point, Liberia’s largest urban slum, disasters can destroy the progress of people who have already been through so much. Young people born in the aftermath of two violent civil wars face displacement from their homes by land erosion, poor living conditions and fast-spreading water-borne diseases like cholera. In 2013, the horror of Ebola struck the West Point community. Yet, the miraculous resilience of the young means they keep on going despite facing many challenges.

With limited sanitation, the risk of disease outbreak is constant. Lack of proper housing means that seasonal floods can destroy homes and waste can wash into the streets, with no infrastructure to clear it away. Imagine building up a business only to become too ill to work, or for your livelihood to be destroyed in floods that you know will return?

Stop young people returning to square one

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Meet the young people making their communities cleaner and safer


“I found my training as a member of the Disaster Risk Reduction Committee so interesting – now I can spot the potential signs of disaster. For instance, people often cook inside the house and do everything in one room. But we tell people to cook outside the house as it’s a big fire risk.”

“I plan to be a member of the committee for a long time. Because it’s helping to show my people how it should be. And it’s showing me how to be a good mother, a good neighbour and a good friend. It’s an honour to do this work. At first, we do a full discussion with 15-20 people and then over the next few weeks we go off house to house and sit and talk. It’s good when people say thank you to us for warning them.”

Anita, DRR committee member for YMCA Liberia, with her children


Like around 15,000 other people in West Point since 2017, Yusuf and his 11-strong family saw their home swept away by coastal erosion. With no money to complete his education his prospects looked bleak. But after a year of YMCA training, Yusuf now has a tailoring shop away from the slum:

“If it wasn’t for the YMCA I would still be passing around, not doing anything. But from the day I learned to sew I always wanted to teach others. Now I want to train more young people. That’s my dream.”

Yusuf, on the edge of West Point slum, looking out to where his home used to be before it was washed away by coastal erosion in 2017

“I live with my Aunt; it wasn’t easy for me before I got involved with the Y Care programme. Since the training I am able to earn money to contribute at home and pay for my daughter to go to school.”

“I learned how to make soap and bake bread. Before you bake you should wash your hands; no germs should be on your hands! I know that now. Through the soap-making, through the baking I am able to save. I want all my brothers and sisters here will be able to achieve things on their own like me. That is my hope.”

Sandra, who learnt soap making and catering with YMCA Liberia, selling soap in West Point

A gift today could help young people earn a living to protect themselves against disasters to come. By getting people into a trade they love, we can help them earn enough to build stronger homes, improve their health and sanitation, and save money so the next disaster doesn’t take them back to square one.

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