The Strongheart Group, Liberia
Lovetta Conto was born in Liberia, but was forced to flee because of the civil war. She and her father lived in Ghana as refugees. When she was growing up in the refugee camp, she did not know what the future held for her. Even the refugee camp school was not free, but her father worked hard so that she was able to go to school. Living through the war gave her strength.
A lot of times she didn’t have food to eat before school. If her father couldn’t pay her school fees, she would be kicked out of school, which happened sometimes no matter how hard her father worked to put the money together. After school she didn’t always get to do her homework until late because she would have to spend many hours fetching water for cooking and bathing. But she knew she had to get an education so she kept going. She says “I had to prepare myself to go for my future.”
When Lovetta was 12 years old, she met Cori Stern, co-founder of Strongheart Fellowship. She was nervous to talk to her. Strongheart Fellowship helped young people with hard lives change their future, so that they could one day help other people. Lovetta was chosen as the first Strongheart Fellow. At first her dream was to be a lawyer because she thought that was what would make her father proud but something inside pulled her toward fashion and designing jewelry.
Lovetta created a beautiful line of jewelry made from bullets from the Liberian civil war. A portion of the profits from her jewelry was used to create the first Strongheart House in Liberia, where she lived with other young people like her from all over the globe.