The Walking Dead
In the heart of Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia, lies an enigma of sorts. Palm Grove Cemetery, was once the epitome of a peaceful beautiful place for the dead to be buried. That was before nearly twenty years of brutal civil war. Today, it is not a place for the dead, but the Walking Dead.
The war was the result of rival warlords vying for power over Liberia and even parts of Sierra Leone. It has gone down as one of the most brutal conflicts of the Twentieth Century. One of the most appalling aspects of the war was the use of Child Soldiers. Boys as young as eight were kidnapped and forced to fight. These boys were drugged with a concoction of alcohol, cane juice and gunpowder, given marijuana, and cocaine in order to make them fight. They were forced to perform cannibalism on those they killed believing it made them invincible. There were thousands of them.
When the war ended, they had no place to go. They were addicts and obviously traumatized. They became known as “Zogos”, the lowest of the low, and were cast out of normal society. Having no place to go, they migrated to Palm Grove Cemetery.
During the war, Palm Grove had become the home of hundreds of people seeking safety from the fighting. Graves had been opened and bodies thrown over the wall. Entire families lived in the empty crypts. When the war ended, many of its inhabitants migrated back to their homes. That’s when the Zogos moved in. The cemetery has become a hell-hole of drugs, crime, and human travesty. Many of the inhabitants were once child soldiers, whose innocence was stolen by power hungry evil men. The ones whose lives were stolen at an early age have been forgotten.
There are few pictures of Palm Grove because the government has made it off limits to all… especially foreigners. For years Autumn Hope has requested permission to enter the area and were always denied. This literal skeleton in the closet was a forbidden place. All I could do was ride by the high imposing walls and wonder what it was like on the inside. I listened to the stories of one or two who made it out. It is a heart breaking situation.
But God…Just last week I received a very unexpected message. Because of a connection between Autumn Hope and a member of Liberia’s Temple of Justice (Supreme Court), Autumn Hope has been asked to be the first organization to enter Palm Grove and access the situation. An opportunity we have agreed to accept. Honestly, I do not know what we will find, or what we will be able to do. I do believe God has chosen us for a reason. This trip will likely occur in May. Our desire is to set up feeding stations to draw out many of Palm Grove’s residents first. This builds trust and a bit of security to go inside. Depending on what we find inside we will advise the government on the situation. We need immediate funding to plan this trip and the associated mission.
I expect this mission to run near $15,000.00. This will allow us to run outside feeding centers for several weeks before my arrival thus preparing the area for my visit. I pray you will consider helping with this mission. These are some of the most forgotten people in the world and they are in this situation because of the evil of other men years ago.
Please help me give them a cup of cold water. (Matthew 10:42) Donations are needed immediately to begin the process that is necessary for this to become a reality. Thank you for your prayers and support.
Steve Jones – Founder and Director of Autumn Hope Ministries