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Liberia: Amputee All Stars

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FOREIGN exchange with Daljit Dhaliwal Liberia's 14-year civil war cost many combatants their childhoods, and for some of them, their arms or legs as well. As Amputee All Stars, these former fighters compete together on the soccer field. But medals and trophies can't change the fact that these young men are living on the streets begging for money and food to survive. [sounds of congested traffic] AMPUTEE ALL STARS Reported by Ruthie Ackerman, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting David Gibson, Ex-Combatant Amputee On August 9th I was in the church where I prayed every morning. People say that it was a bomb blast. I found myself in the hospital . . . And I was amputated. . . That's how I lost my leg. For now we've got no work that we're doing You know . . . We go along the street begging people for a living. We go at the bank . . . We just roam around town to . . . to get people who can help us . . . to talk to. Like on Saturdays . . . The (inaudible supermarket name) supermarket We go to the supermarket, we hold the box, and you know . . . do the box together. `We hold the box together. You carry it with you If you go in this mall and want to help us, You come, you put something in the box. At the end of the day we share together. We do that day by day. Over the week On Saturday we go from store to store. There some give us some don't give us Well, we stay, continue on until the day's end. Over the week, our families don't cook. Because . . . No much money. So . . . we wait until Sunday, Only on Sunday my wife cooks. and we eat. We had about 103,000 of our young men and women Jervis Witherspoon Executive Director of the National Committee for Disarmament Demobillization Rehabilitation and Reintegration who were disarmed as ex-combatants, and these individuals actually were provided with certain basic skills training. They have been given some basic skills for livelihood, SAY YES FOR CHILDREN GIVE THEM A FUTURE, EDUCATE EVERY CHILD and sustainable livelihood is very important when it comes to sustainable peace. YES TO UNITY AND DEVELOPMENT NO TO GUNS AND DESTRUCTION David Gibson was disarmed in 2003 After I saw myself in this condition . . . I felt hopeless and I knew that there was no hope for me in life First my family would neglect me because of my condition There was no idea of me living. I would've killed myself and you know? So, some of my friends decided . . . encouraging me. Finally, I said, I should go to school. And we start doing tailoring. Now, for now I'm not doing tailoring. I'm not doing nothing now because . . . There's no empowerment. They were to empower us with . . . machines, and tools, and other things, but . . . since then nothing They only promise all, promise all, until? Today there's still nothing, we're still waiting. They said we should wait. We're still waiting. And . . . since then. After you do the course . . . You graduate from the course . . . they will come back to empower you by giving you the tool kits, and giving you a machine which you will use to sew they give you some clothes, needles, and thread and other things. They didn't do that. They told us to wait and we're still waiting. That's the reason why we're doing nothing now. Andrew Nimley is the youth director for the Archdiocese of Monrovia, which runs programs for ex-combatants. These programs pick up where the DDRR left off, helping with the rehabilitation process. What they did was . . . To easily have manpower to fight . . . They brainwashed . . . kids A good number of the fighters were below the age of 12. But, immediately after the war . . . when the warlords got power, they 'ditched' them. They have no care for them anymore. They're not concerned about how they live. And so they became social rejects. The kind of rehabilitation and . . . reintegration porogram conducted . . . in Liberia, we think it was too fast. Some of the kids started to fight at the age of 7. They fought up until the age of 18. And then you took less than 6 months to rehabilitate them? How can that happen? Jion Kollie Peter Tarr Ex-combatant Amputees Me? How did I lose my leg? Oh, By the war. La mine. A mine. It was the Lord's Rebels. It was God's group. [This guy's group.] They are the ones who 'shot off my arm'. (sic) [Offscreen interviewer] Wait, So I want to understand something. [Offscreen interviewer] He's your friend? You guys are friends now? Yeah, we are friends now. But you guys fought; you were on different sides? Yeah. Different sides.. Where do I sleep? I think you can see my appearance. I sleep on the sidewalk. Daybreak we go, we take up water and wash our face. Scrub our mouth. Sometimes we wake up in the morning we go in front of the bank we wait for people who got golden hearts. We ask them for a little assistance. To help out with money. To buy food to eat. That's how we're surviving. Other people we ask for assistance, They have a whole lot of things to tell us. They get angry with us. They say, "You are the same people who killed our parents. . . ". . . burned our houses . . . ". . . looted all our things. . . " ". . . and you're coming back to ask us for assistance?" [on screen] In Prusuit of Liberty They should forgive us. Because we have common graound. Because we come together Coming back together. We are one. Despite having lost a leg to the war, Jion participates in a soccer league. Today is the championship final. The Amputees Sports Association started with the National Commission for Disarmament, Immobilization, Rehabilitation, and Reintegration. And this commission is specifically dealing with ex-combatants. We realized that there were a couple of them who were--had been forgotten about-- who had infectious diseases, and their limbs were getting rotten, and they had all fought during the war-- --the civil conflict war, you know-- for different warring factions. and this really, I believe, has given them a new sense of hope, or sense of relevance to the point where they're representing the country at international matches in Sierra Leone, in Russia, and they should be going to Turkey very soon. [Off screen announcer] I would like to begin by congratulating all the boys and all those who participated in the events that have served Liberia so well. Let's give them all a very, very big hand. Why, why, why , why, why? Because not only are they sportsmen, but they are Ambassadors for Liberia. They are representing the new Liberia; To learn more about Amputte Alls Stars visit www.worldamputeefootball.com the new Liberia involves--includes everybody. And let's not forget that. Jion's team, the Amputee All Stars, won the championship game and will be going to Turkey to compete. Jion was one of the players chosen to travel abroad. But until then, he continues to sleep on the street and beg for change with the rest of the amputees. Oh, what's my hope? Well, I want to go back to school. If you can tell 'Ma' Ellen to help me and send me to school . . . I'll be here waiting. FOREIGN Exchange with Daljit Dhaliwal AMPUTEE ALL STARS The Amputee Football Wolrd Cup started in 1998 with six teams. Source: worldamputeefootball.com Teams from ten countries played in the 2007 Amputee Football World Cup Liberia's team finished eighth in the 2007 tournament Amputee All Stars Reporter: Ruthie Ackerman Videographer: Andre Lambertson Editor: Naje Lataillade Produced by: Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting "Foreign Exchange with Daljit Dhaliwal" is produced by Azimuth Media For more information related to this video, visit www.pulitzercenter.org

Video Details

Duration: 8 minutes and 12 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
Director: Ruthie Ackerman
Views: 288
Posted by: pulitzercenter on Apr 24, 2008

As featured on Foreign Exchange. The amputee soccer players - formerly child soldiers of opposing rebel groups - are held up as the new hope of Liberia. The Amputee Football Federation of Liberia has already played in international matches in Sierra Leone and Russia. Now they're gearing up to go to Turkey. Although these players win medals, they still struggle to meet their basic needs.

Credits:

Reporter: Ruthie Ackerman
Videographer: Andre Lambertson
Editor: Naje Lataillade.

In association with Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. For more information, visit www.pulitzercenter.org/showproject.cfm?id=40.

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