As a student in the 7th grade, Morris Matadi lived a peaceful life in Liberia with his parents, sisters and brothers. Then the war began…
In their attempt to escape the violence, Morris and his family were caught by the rebels at a checkpoint called “God Bless You Gate,” because as 17 year old soldier Sergeant Kofa Mailer said "when you pass by this gate, God bless you.” Covered with human bones, “God Bless You Gate” stood as a grim barrier between life and death.
Morris and his family did not make it to the other side.
The last time Morris saw the people he loved most in his life, they were taken behind a nearby hut. Minutes later, a group of soldiers strolled out in front of him holding a knife dripping with blood.
Morris fled back to his community in fear. He returned to his home only to witness more death and destruction. For the next 7 days, he moved from one deserted house to another. Then the rebels found him. As an 11 year old boy, Morris was made to become a child soldier.
This is his story…
The horrors of war leave their mark even on the strongest of men. To force young children into the brutality of armed conflict is an act of barbarism that represents one of the worst human rights atrocities on our planet.
Tens of thousands of children across the world have been subjugated and turned into soldiers of war. Many of these exploited children don’t make it out alive. Those that do are left with permanent physical, emotional and spiritual scars.
It cannot be overstated how awe-inspiring it is for someone to return from the depths of hell without forever being consumed by hatred and rage. To then dedicate one’s life in service of others is a true testament to the limitless capacity of the human spirit.
Morris Matadi came out of the war alive and found his peace by devoting himself to the betterment of his community. He began a program to provide rehabilitation and reintegration for former child soldiers, women affected by the war and youth struggling with drugs, violence and crime in the ghetto communities of West Africa.
Morris created an organization to provide trauma counseling, vocational and technical skills training, and jobs placement in community programs related to sanitation, agriculture and peace building.
Since he began his work in Liberia, Morris has helped rehabilitate and reintegrate over 3,000 former child soldiers, drugs users and women affected by the war.
Through the support of the Fearvana Foundation, Morris was able to set up a fully functioning office with a generator that provided a consistent source of electricity in the rural parts of Liberia.
This office gave him the means to:
1. Recruit former child soldiers, women associated with fighting forces, and young people in the community battling drugs, violence and crime.
2. Accommodate volunteers that visit his award winning organization annually for research and data collection.
3. Empower rehabilitated former child soldiers through the implementation of sustainable models of employment and giving back to the younger generation.
4. Create jobs with computer skills, thereby reducing crime and the use of drugs, while promoting peace and security
5. Run computer training and after school programs for young kids in the community. This training was conducted by former child soldiers as a part of their social reintegration.
6. Conduct desktop publishing and stationery sales.
7. Provide resources for the youth to learn, communicate with the outside world and grow by leveraging the power of technology.