My name is Tonia Dabwe, founder and chair of Mineke Foundation. In 1968 my parents were the first inhabitants of the area that today is called Dabwe Town. The community named itself after my father to thank my parents for their efforts in developing this community.

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My father

These efforts centred around my father's vision that a country that is dependent on food imports is a country in slavery. My father devoted his life to teaching others,showing visitors to his experimental farm of 4 acres all that could be achieved by using whatever was freely available in nature. At the Damiefa School, established in 1982, he taught school children basic agricultural skills, so they could help their families grow their own food. In addition my parents constructed roads, built simple bridges, and installed running water and electricity. They also sponsored school children and small businesses.

Civil war

The Liberian civil war, which started on Christmas Eve 1989, put an end to their work and ultimately destroyed a large part of everything they had worked so hard for. On a personal note, my family was forced to flee and my mother has been missing ever since.

Not only the buildings and infrastructure that my parents had worked so hard on was gone, but also the social cohesion in the country, self-confidence and trust in one another. Not just the victims of the war but the entire Liberian community is traumatized by the two civil wars, even though the latter ended more than 10 years ago. People distrust each other, authorities and major international NGOs.

My Dream

My dream is to build on the work my parents started. Using today's means, I want to offer people opportunities to permanently improve the economic and social situation of Dabwe Town and the surrounding area, so that this area can become an example for other regions in Liberia and neighboring countries. To achieve this, I founded Mineke Foundation in January 2009.

A lot has been achieved already. We started on the renovation of the Damiefa school. Thanks to the vocational courses soap making and pastry - combined with an obligatory entrepreneurial skills training, many graduates can now earn an income. These are often young single mothers. In our Women's Club, many of them support each other, and continue learning, for instance about health and women's rights. Once a week, children can participate in the Kids Club, where they can learn while playing and hopefully in the future also learn how to use computers.

My dream is that the area around Dabwe Town will once again be a region with strong social cohesion, where people take the initiative to start projects and achieve good results. They accept responsibility for their choices and proactively seek help to reach their goals. Their positivity, initiative and perseverance lead to a safe and clean environment in which commitments are honored, children attend school, good infrastructure exists, thriving businesses emerge and people fight crime and corruption together.

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