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As Buddhists, we chant for the health and happiness of ourselves and our families and for peace in our communities but rarely do we find ourselves literally chanting for our lives.

Liberian SGI member Andy Ankrah found himself doing just that. For the past 14 years Liberia has been torn apart by tribal rivalries. The fighting has claimed more than 200,000 lives, displaced one million people and made the country famous for ethnic hatred, public executions and child soldiers.



Andy, who was born in Ghana, and his six-month pregnant partner, Mary, found themselves sought by death squads, intent on revenging an anti-rebel air attack by killing foreigners. The local villagers, terrified of retribution, refused to help or protect them.

Another SGI member, Morris Barry, was trapped in his village as rebels fought against peacekeeping forces. As mortar rockets rained down, 'I even went into my mother’s kitchen and, finding that she had abandoned her cooking, continued with the cooking,' he said.

'I felt that since the whole area was overrun with rebels, nowhere was safe. Safety could only be achieved by remaining calm and chanting.'

When the civil war broke out, SGI Ghana member Sonii David was doing field work in Liberia for his doctorate. He managed to leave with his mother and sisters but his father, a diplomat, was left behind.

Here are their stories.



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