05-20-2018  9:10 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

US Marshals, police arrest Vermont fugitive in Oregon

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The U.S. Marshals Service says a missing sex offender from Vermont has been arrested in Oregon.The Marshals say 55-year-old James Rivers was arrested May 16 in Cottage Grove, Oregon, by deputy marshals and local police. It's unclear if he has an attorney.Authorities...

Oregon State study says it's OK to eat placenta after all

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — First experts said eggs are bad for you, then they say it's OK to eat them. Is red wine good for your heart or will it give you breast cancer?Should you eat your placenta?Conflicting research about diets is nothing new, but applying the question to whether new mothers...

State sees need to reduce elk damage in the Skagit Valley

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Elk are easy to spot against the green backdrop of the Skagit Valley, where much of the resident North Cascades elk herd that has grown to an estimated 1,600 is found.For farmers in the area — especially those who grow grass for their cattle or to sell to...

Famed mini sub's control room to become future exhibit

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport has a new addition to its archives — the salvaged control room of the legendary, one-of-a-kind Cold War-era miniature submersible NR-1.Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy, conceived the idea for the...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Northern states taking down vestiges of racism, intolerance

DETROIT (AP) — A nearly 80-year-old statue depicting a European settler with a weapon in his hand towering over a Native American that some say celebrates white supremacy has been dismantled by crews in southwestern Michigan's Kalamazoo.And at the University of Michigan, regents have voted...

2018 midterms: An early heat for 2020 Democrats?

ATLANTA (AP) — Look closely enough at the 2018 midterm campaign and you'll see the stirrings of a Democratic scramble to reclaim the White House from President Donald Trump.The leading players — from established national figures such as former Vice President Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders...

Guess who's coming to Windsor? Royal ceremony weds cultures

BURLINGTON, New Jersey (AP) — With a gospel choir, black cellist and bishop, Oprah, Serena and Idris Elba in the audience and an African-American mother-of-the-bride, Saturday's wedding of Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle was a blend of the solemn and the soulful.Guess who's...

ENTERTAINMENT

Broadcast networks go for milk-and-cookies comfort this fall

NEW YORK (AP) — If provocative, psyche-jangling shows like "The Handmaid's Tale" are your taste, head directly to streaming or cable. But if you're feeling the urge for milk-and-cookies comfort, broadcast television wants to help.The upcoming TV season will bring more sitcom nostalgia in the...

Met says it has evidence Levine abused or harassed 7 people

NEW YORK (AP) — The Metropolitan Opera said in court documents Friday that it found credible evidence that conductor James Levine engaged in sexually abusive or harassing conduct with seven people that included inappropriate touching and demands for sex acts over a 25-year period.The Met...

'13 Reasons Why' premiere canceled after Texas shooting

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Netflix canceled the premiere party for its second season of the teen drama "13 Reasons Why" because of a school shooting near Houston.The streaming service announced the cancellation hours before the scheduled premiere and red carpet event, citing the Friday morning...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Trump Jr. met with Mueller witness during campaign

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump Jr. met during the 2016 campaign with a private military contractor and an...

2018 midterms: An early heat for 2020 Democrats?

ATLANTA (AP) — Look closely enough at the 2018 midterm campaign and you'll see the stirrings of a...

British royal family thanks those who celebrated wedding

LONDON (AP) — The royal family, blessed with fantastic weather and a buoyant public mood at the royal...

Love and fire: Text of Michael Curry's royal wedding address

WINDSOR, England (AP) — And now in the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, Father, Son and...

Episcopal bishop Curry gives royal wedding an American flair

WINDSOR, England (AP) — Nothing quite captured the trans-Atlantic nature of Saturday's royal wedding as...

Markle's bridal gown work of Givenchy's Clare Waight Keller

LONDON (AP) — Clare Waight Keller of Givenchy is the master British designer behind the sleek silk...

By Teo Kermeliotis for CNN


Saran Kaba Jones was just eight years old when she fled Liberia in 1989, escaping the horrors of a ruinous civil war that would plague the small West African nation for well over a decade.

As the daughter of a diplomat, Jones went on to live a fairly privileged life abroad, following her family to countries like Ivory Coast, Egypt, France and Cyprus before moving to the United States to attend college.

Meanwhile, back in Liberia, the country descended into a conflict that left an estimated 250,000 people dead and many more displaced, as well as destroying much of its economy and infrastructure.

The fighting came to an end in 2003 and five years later Jones decided to pay a visit to Liberia. Returning home for the first time in nearly 20 years she encountered a wrecked nation that still bore the scars of years of conflict.

"When I got there I was absolutely shocked and devastated by what I was seeing," says Jones. "It just wasn't the Liberia which I remembered as a young child -- things like basic necessities were non-existent: access to clean water, access to health care, access to basic education were non-existent and the challenges just seemed so enormous for the government."

Witnessing her country's dire need for redevelopment was a life-changing moment for Jones. She immediately put aside her aspirations to follow in her father's footsteps pursuing a career as a diplomat. Instead, she decided that it was time for her to find a way of giving back to her country.

One year later, Jones joined a number of state and private efforts to rebuild Liberia by setting up FACE Africa, a U.S.-based non-profit organization that's working to provide access to clean drinking water in Liberia's rural communities, where running water and sewage infrastructure is often a rare luxury.

"I decided to focus specifically on water because the issue of water really crosses all aspects of development," says Jones, 30. "It affects education, it affects health, it affects gender issues, so for me there was nothing more basic than the issue of water so I decided to make that my cause."

FACE Africa, which relies on fundraising events and donations for its projects, focuses on implementing low-tech water solutions in the country's hard-to-reach rural areas, many of which had their major water points and systems destroyed during the war.

So far the grassroots group has completed about 20 low-cost clean water, sanitation and hygiene projects, including hand dug wells, rehabilitation of existing wells and construction of communal latrines, that have benefited at least 7,000 people.

Jones, who travels to Liberia every three months to oversee the group's projects, says that at least half of Liberia's 4 million population lack access to adequate drinking water.

The desperate situation is exacting a huge toll on the country's society: approximately 3,000 people, more than half of which are children under the age of five, die each year from diarrhea due to poor water and sanitation conditions, according to World Bank figures.

As well as saving lives, Jones says that access to safe drinking water can also encourage economic growth and improve the educational development of children, especially girls.

"This is the highlight of my work," says Jones, who was recently named by the World Economic Forum as one of its Young Global Leaders for 2013. "Hearing from people who feel gratitude, mothers coming up to me saying that their children no longer suffer from diarrhea; they spend more time in school; girls don't have to walk miles every day to go and fetch water; men and women can now focus on more productive economic activities like farming and selling in the market."

In recent months, FACE Africa has embarked on a major initiative that's aiming to solve the water crisis in River Cess, one of Liberia's most underserved areas, where only one fifth of its 80,000 population has access to adequate drinking water.

Called "County by County," the plan is to provide water coverage to 60,000 people in the region by building 250 water points by 2017 and to ensure that the country meets its Millennium Development Goals target of 250 people per safe water point.

"It's an ambitious goal for such a young organization like ours but we're absolutely confident that with the right focus and the right funding, if we're able to raise $1.2 million over this time, we can prove that with focus, with strategic implementation, we can solve the water crisis in River Cess."

Yet raising funds has always been a big challenge for FACE Africa, which faces stiff competition from bigger, more established NGOs eager to tap into donors' generosity.

Jones says that limited funds affect the group's scaling capacity as well as its ability to have more people on the ground. FACE Africa employs two full-time staff, including Jones, and works with up to 30 volunteers annually.

Despite all the challenges, Jones says she is determined to continue working to improve living conditions in her country. She says her long-term goal is to bring access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene to as many regions of Liberia as possible, as well as other post-conflict countries that face similar problems.

"If I can be known as the woman that helped solve the water crisis in Liberia and beyond," she says, "if I can be a part of that solution, then for me I would have achieved success."

 

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