Hoping to End Child Prostitution in Liberia, Utah Entrepreneur Launches Sahbu to Help Children in West Africa Gain Access to Education

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In Liberia, sending a child to school for a year only costs $120. Yet, the war-torn West African nation still has one of the lowest rates of child literacy in the world.

Sahbu serves people looking to further their education. For every person that enrolls in college through Sahbu’s education search tool, the company provides a year of education to a child in Liberia.

I’ve traveled extensively so I thought I understood poverty, but nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed in Liberia during my trip to pick up my two adopted sons.

Having recently adopted two young boys from Liberia, Utah entrepreneur Mitch Weight said he plans to return to West Africa in October to help other children in the poverty-stricken nation gain an education and a better life. Weight recently founded Sahbu, a Utah-based company focused on providing access to high-quality education for individuals in the United States looking to further their college education. Then, when someone enrolls in school through Sahbu, the company provides a year’s education to a child in Liberia.

With about 85 percent unemployment in Liberia, Weight explained that some experts estimate that roughly 80 percent of young Liberian girls – some younger than 10 years old -- engage in prostitution to help support their families.

“I’ve traveled extensively so I thought I understood poverty, but nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed in Liberia during my trip to pick up my two adopted sons. Starvation, child prostitution, slavery, kidnapping, child labor, war, rape, corruption and AIDS were all part of daily life in Liberia. When I returned home, I couldn’t get Liberia off my mind, specifically all the children I had to leave behind. Over the next few months it became clear what I needed to do - I needed to provide an education for as many Liberian children as I could,” Weight said.

His belief that education is the most effective way to pull young African girls from the grips of prostitution spurred Weight to form Sahbu, which focuses on connecting American students with colleges, while helping young Liberian families that are struggling to send their kids to school. Now when students in the United States approach Sahbu, searching for information about a college they would like to attend, Sahbu donates money to Lifting Liberia, a nonprofit organization working in West Africa to eradicate illiteracy, poverty and child prostitution.

Weight said he adopted his Liberian sons after his daughter was born with a rare genetic disorder in 2004.

“We didn’t know what we were up against at first. The doctors kept telling us that there was a 25 percent chance that any subsequent baby we had could have this same thing,” Weight said.

After learning about the struggles of children in West Africa a few years later, and deciding to adopt two young boys from Liberia as a safer way to expand his family, Weight said he made it his mission to help the many Liberian children who are unable to attend school.

“In Liberia, AIDS and civil war have orphaned about 340,000 children. And there is a 66 percent chance that a 19-year-old girl in Liberia has been a victim of rape,” Weight said.

He explained that sending a child to school for a year in Liberia costs only $120. But many kids currently do not have the means to obtain an education.

“By our standards in the United States, this is very cheap. Many Americans could probably find that much change in the cushions of their couch,” he said. “Despite how inexpensive it is to help, Liberia still has the sixth lowest rate of child literacy in the world.”

To bring people even closer to the daily struggles of Liberians, Weight said he plans to travel to West Africa in October to provide scholarships and collect stories from some of the children he intends to help.

“We will have a great impact on the lives of many West Africans because of how inexpensive it is to provide education to children in Liberia,” Weight said.

Weight is asking those interested in Sahbu’s cause to get involved by subscribing online at http://www.sahbu.com and helping spread the word by sharing on Facebook and other social media sites.

About Sahbu

Sahbu serves individuals looking to further their education. For every person that enrolls in college through Sahbu’s education search tool, the company provides a year of education to a child in West Africa. Sahbu also offers essential tools and resources needed for prospective students to prepare for a prosperous educational experience. The company is guided by a mission to raise awareness of the crisis West African youth are experiencing and empower them through education. For more information, visit http://www.sahbu.com or our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/sahbusearch.

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