UNMIL Photo/Christophe Herwig - Ganta, Liberia, July 30, 2008 :
Sacks of cassava weigh up to 30 kilos.
Each day women walk several kilometres from their farms to the market in town carrying the sacks on their heads, where they are sold for around US$7.
The Ganta Concerned Women’s Group has 526 members who come together to support each other after the war, which had left them with physical and psychological scars. Many were raped and beaten, some were forced to cook and serve the soldiers and many lost their husbands and other family members. Others had fled to Guinea, returning home later with nothing. A small group of Ganta women saw that there was a need for counseling services, and formed the Group. They initially conducted sessions on the side of the road. They sold cassava leaves in the market to buy food to share amongst their families, setting aside whatever they could afford to go towards building a centre for women to gather in. Its current projects include literacy classes for the women, many of whom had their education interrupted by war. The Ganta Concerned Women’s Group has arranged financing through the World Bank, the Government of Korea, UNESCO, UNIFEM and FAO to build the first women-owned cassava processing plant and develop 10 community farms to grow cassava, with a plan to sell in the local market and beyond.