Reference : V-P-LR-E-00382
Date : 02/2009
Country/Region : LIBERIA
Caption : Margibi county, Kakata. Portrait of Mrs Slocum.
Photographer : MORRIS, Christopher
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : reserved users only
Copyright : ICRC/VII
Description : The de facto leader of the women's movement in Margibi county in Liberia is an unassuming 61-year-old woman known as Mrs Slocum. A nurse by profession who also serves as a midwife, she works full-time in a family planning clinic in Kakata, the capital of the county. In her spare time, Mrs Slocum, who has eight children, founded the Margibi Women's Development Association, or MARWODA.

For many girls and unmarried or widowed women the only way to make money immediately following the war in Liberia was through prostitution. Mrs Slocum convinces young women to leave the street and come to the Marwoda Women's Centre, where they learn trades such as tailoring (sewing), soap-making and tie-dying. Her latest project is a country cloth weaving programme. She is currently visiting villages around the county to persuade women to take up the trade.

Mrs Slocum carried on her work throughout the war, despite countless displacements, and she was not spared its hardships. Two of her daughters were killed in the crossfire. Despite her efforts to move on, many vivid memories of the war remain with her to this day:

"The walking and literally falling and dying on the road while we were travelling is what touched me most during the war. From hunger and walking great distances, the children would just drop and die. Some of them died on their mothers' backs and the mothers would call out to me, but I could not help them."

When asked which of her many good deeds during the war she gained the most satisfaction from, she replied, without hesitation "Saving lives in the feeding centre. Children came with huge, swollen bellies, emaciated. I never expected them to leave alive but often after treating them, they were able to speak again, call out to their mother and play with her. This to me is the greatest success I've had in my life -- saving those children's lives."

When asked about the future, she says in her ever-humble way: "If we can just love one another and forget about what happened during the war, I see a great future for us, as women. I lost everything. Everything was taken from me. Just last year I lost one of my daughters again.

The future is bright, but the road is rocky."
Original material : digital
Resolution : 5616x3744
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour