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Building a legacy

Mary Amara MCSL

When Mary Amara's husband died, she was left to bring up their young children alone.

Having worked side by side with her husband for 20 years to build up a thriving plantation in the east of Sierra Leone, she should have faced a secure future.

Instead she was left with nothing - with no home to live in or land to farm and no savings to pay for basic items like school books and medicines.

'It would have been very difficult for me and my children to survive,' explains Mary. 'That was the only source of income for my family.'

Mary's experience is far from unique. Across Sierra Leone women have not traditionally inherited land or property when male relatives die.

Fighting back

But Mary was not prepared to accept a status quo which for years has discriminated against women. She contacted a human rights monitor working with the Methodist Church of Sierra Leone (MCSL), a MAPS funded Christian Aid partner.

MCSL uses human rights monitors and paralegals to work within communities creating awareness and understanding of basic human rights and to defend people like Mary whose rights are violated.

With MCSL's help, attitudes are beginning to shift and in 2007 a law was passed affirming the right of women to inherit property.

Moving forward

The work of MCSL will continue to be crucial if this law is to make a difference in every community, but for now, it allows women like Mary to fight for their basic human rights and build a brighter, more secure, future for their children.

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