PIAP tries to reduce poverty in Liberia

A new grass-roots movement was recently started to lower the poverty in Liberia. The People’s Initiative Against Poverty (PIAP), the name of the movement, has a goal of trying to reduce the percentage of poverty in Liberia and also build self-esteem and a sense of purpose.

The movement was started by Mercyhurst Social Work major Sister Wilhelmena Browne Kade. She is receiving help from Mercyhurst professors Laura Lewis, Ph.D., Natasha Duncan, Ph.D., and Erie resident Joe Fries. Sister Kade, whose homeland is Liberia, saw the situation and decided to start a movement to help those residing there.

This applies to an old saying that Sister Kade likes: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

There is currently a high unemployment rate in Liberia; roughly 80 percent of people don’t have jobs. People also have to beg for food sometimes. Some people are given cups of rice, but that is not nearly enough to feed them.

The movement is now taking place in Pleebo City, which has about 56,000 residents living in it.

The immediate community in which the project is been implemented has a population of about 3,000.

Pleebo currently has no running water or electricity. Residents there are encouraged to work to make their situation better and people sometimes come into the city and help out. PIAP plans to move to other communities once this one is successful in being restored.

There are three phases to this movement. The first phase, which has already started, focuses on planting and harvesting vegetables such as cabbage and peanuts. Seventy percent of these crops will be given to volunteers and families to feed them in order to stable its sustainability.

Phase two of the movement is scheduled to launch September 2013. The goal of this phase is focused on selling and raising livestock. This includes pigs and goats.

Phase three will go into effect in September 2014 if the first two phases are successful in achieving their goals. The goal of the third phase is to give the community fresh eggs and poultry through an established chicken farm.

Sister Kade hopes that volunteers will gain a sense of purpose and promote education and honesty through this project.

“This project gives them a sense of purpose,” said Kade. “When I talk to them, they say, ‘Oh, Sister Kade, you will be so proud of us.’ And I say, ‘No, you are going to be proud of yourselves.”

If you would like to get involved in PIAP’s movement, please contact Sister Kade at wbrown32@lakers.mercyhurst.edu or (814) 824-3314.