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Greetings from Liberia


Reyman, MSW'10, conducting an assessment in a village in Grant Kru County

Contact: Emily Williams

Posted Aug. 26, 2010

By: Laurie Reyman, MSW'10

How did you end up in Liberia?

I interned at the Carter Center during my second year. I sort of wiggled my way into the Liberia program (it wasn't my assigned intern post) and became involved in organizing a Transnational Dialogue on Women's Rights and Gender Violence in Post Conflict Societies that was hosted through the Institute for Developing Nations at Emory University by Dr. Pamela Scully. Through my involvement I went to Liberia in March 2009. There I met the Carter Center staff and learned of an open position of Project Officer in Harper, Liberia. I applied and got the position.

What is your current position like with the Carter Center?

I started my job in June 2009. I work closely with our partner civil society organizations and with the local communities in the southeast. The justice system in Liberia, like everything else during the 14-year civil war, was broken. Many Liberians do not know the laws of their country, how to navigate the court system, what their rights are or how they can gain access to justice. The Carter Center and their partners go into hundreds of rural and remote communities throughout the country to educate Liberians about the rule of law and help them with conflict resolution. The office in Harper, which I head, runs three programs: the Community Legal Advising Program (CLA), a rule of law civic education program and a chiefs program. I manage our office and work closely with three civil society organizations (CSOs) that are implementing the CLA and civic education programs in the southeast. Most of my time is spent in capacity building for our partner CSOs and monitoring and evaluation.

This job is special because I am working at the grassroots level where I can see the faces and hear the voices of average Liberians who are struggling to put their homes, their communities and their country back together. It is also at this level where I heard from a woman who was denied a share in her father's property by her brother, but after being educated about the inheritance law, he gave her the rightful share. I heard from a town chief who said that after receiving education about domestic violence and rape, those acts are decreasing in his town. I heard from a man who learned that his bond fee was refundable at the end of his time in court. He went to the magistrate to request his money and it was returned to him. I heard from a small community that is in a land dispute with an international rubber corporation. They now have someone at their side helping them navigate the dispute and keeping them informed of their rights throughout the process. These changes may be minimal when compared with the enormous need of all Liberians, but to these individuals and these communities, they make all the difference in the world. I feel privileged to be involved in this and am learning and growing both personally and professionally.

What does it mean to you personally and professionally to have this opportunity?

I grew up in Zimbabwe and returned to the States when I finished highschool. I soon realized that I wanted to go back in Africa. It took me 10 years to finally get to the point where I could get the kind of job I wanted. And this job is exactly what I was looking for. My personal and professional goals have always been closely entwined. I think it comes from growing up with parents who were missionaries because their personal was their professional too. This kind of work isn't just a job; it's a life. This position with TCC is the first step in a profession and life that I will continue to grow in and explore.