Liberia, once one of the richest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, is now the second poorest country in the world, after 14 years of civil war left the country in ruins. Only recently--with the first democratically held election since the end of the war and intensive foreign aid flows--has Liberia begun showing positive signs towards economic and social recovery. Paving the way to recovery, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia (TRC) was set up in 2005 by the interim government to investigate and report human rights violations that occurred during the civil conflict by providing a platform for both victims and perpetrators to share their experiences. But with all infrastructure having been destroyed, it has proved almost impossible for Liberians living outside of Monrovia to access the TRC hearings and have a say in the process of reconciliation.
A Georgia Institute of Technology project led by Dr. Michael Best and Monrovia-based project manager John Etherton, however, is attempting to provide the technology that will give all Liberians a voice. The Mobile Story Exchange System (MOSES) is an interactive computer video system developed mostly for non-literate users in rural areas. The system allows people to record videos of themselves sharing their views and experiences of the conflict. It also helps inform people about the work of the TRC by enabling them to watch ongoing hearings. As Georgia Tech’s team travels through Liberia gathering video recordings created by users, people in the most remote and inaccessible of areas are being exposed to the perspectives of their fellow Liberians and responding with their own recordings. Through this user-generated content, the project aims to promote constructive national dialog by creating a platform for groups of people that otherwise may never had been able to interact and share their experience of the most horrifying episode of their country’s history.