The civil war in Liberia that lasted from 1989 to 2003 (with a brief break), forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. In 1992 the Centre for Liberian Assistance was formed to support female refugees.
In Ghana's Buduburam camp, more than 40,000 people, the majority of whom are women and children, struggle to survive. Until the 2005 election of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf violence kept Liberians from returning home. Today, the high costs of travel prevent most refugees from returning.
"The women have a feeling of hopelessness. Most of them either lack the employment skills or financial support necessary to provide economic stability for their families," explains Hawa Bropleh, head of the Centre for Liberian Assistance.
In 2000, all U.N. organizations pulled out of Buduburam, and the remainig aid organizations ignored women's needs. The women in the camp told the Centre that their first priorities were education for their children and health care for all. Secondly, they wanted to learn skills to become economically independent, in order to reduce their vulnerability.
In addition to distributing food and resources to over 300 single mothers in refugee camps inside and outside Liberia, the group provides training in human rights and campaigning. As Hawa explains, "We want Liberian women to take part in running the country."
With a $10,000 grant from the Global Fund, CLA is training 100 refugees in the skills they need to run businesses in sewing, computer science and baking.