Liberia has suffered from two consecutive civil wars (1989-1996 and 1999-2003). During these civil wars, energy supply, water pipes and infrastructures were damaged. Today, the majority of Liberians rely on biomass, wood and charcoal for their daily energy needs. Only 0.6% of Monrovians have access to electricity. 1 in 4 Liberians have access to safe drinking water, according to the World Health Organization. Half of all Liberians have no access to a toilet and therefore are forced to perform open defecation. Water-borne diseases like cholera occur regularly. Over 20% of deaths in Liberia are a result of water and sanitation problems. 80% of population live under poverty level.
I made my first trip to Liberia 2013 December.
My dear Liberia friend once describes her country:
"Liberia; a nation ravaged by a deadly civil war in which hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives and millions displaced from their homes; infrastructure destroyed or abandoned; and the very fabric of society torn apart."
Although I was reminded every minute by lack of what I had taken for granted for my entire life: water, electricity etc.. What I was struck the most were Liberian's warms and vitality. To photograph a community or people is a very intimate process for me. If I want my subjects to accept me, I accept them first. If I want them (the subjects) to open up to me, I open up to them first. It is always very fulfilling but sometime exhausting process. I find myself very vulnerable as a person sometimes, while photographing people. During the trip, I have become a very close friend with one Liberian woman named, Comfort. She is my Liberian mother, she says. One time I asked her, why Liberian people are so nice. She paused for a moment, smiled shyly and said, " It is good to be nice".
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