Generation Shuffle

By Amy Rhoades

Victims of Child Rape in Liberia: An eleven-year-old rape victim is shown on her way to a session with a caregiver, at a safe house in Monrovia, Liberia. UN Photo/Staton Winter

Some people live in the same place their entire lives. Others choose to migrate in search of greater opportunities - economic, educational, or other. Many other people are forced to migrate, oftentimes displaced by disasters be they natural or man-made that require them to seek refuge and start over elsewhere.

But here's the thing: there are still others for whom displacement is a way of life.

Such is the reality of many young people in post-war Liberia. They live their lives in transition, constantly being shuffled among extended family members, thereby creating a situation of ongoing threats to child safety, slow academic and social development, and increased strain on caregivers.

Displacement in Liberia began in 1989, when the first of two civil wars broke out. The armed conflicts in Liberia brought 14 years of displacement to the country. For the young people of Liberia, the displacement continues.

What are the long-term effects of recurrent displacement on childhood and youth development? What measures can be taken to provide stability in the face of the ongoing displacement crisis for the post-war generation in Liberia?

The following paper, Life in Transition, discusses the thorny issue of recurrent displacement and explores how education can serve as a departure point for providing stability, skills, and improved welfare for post-war displaced youth as exemplified by the work of community-based organization More Than Me in Monrovia, Liberia.