Updates from Australia, Ghana, Canada, and Liberia
Consolidation in Fundraising Industry
Gofundme, the company behind Crowdrise, has acquired Youcaring, which was the primary site I had been using to fundraise. It doesn’t appear that they have retained the old campaigns, so I am moving back to Crowdrise as the primary campaign, and regretting the loss of all the updates that had been posted to YouCaring. I’ve cross posted this update to my blog from the campaign website.
Status as of September 6, 2018.
On October 20, 2017, A group of refugees from the Ivory Coast, multiple families, over 40 in number, were relocated to Australia. They were one of the last groups to leave the closing UN camp set up in the wake of Ivorian hostilities in Grand Bassa Country, Liberia.
Years ago, I encountered this group near Accra, Ghana, where they had actually broken into one of the apartments I rented and stolen all the food (about $1,000 stockpile). Once I was able to track them down, just blocks down the same street, they returned what they hadn’t eaten, and apologized, explaining that, they were in a bad situation, with no benefactor, no way back “home” and no way out of Ghana. I eventually ended up sending a United Nations chartered bus to retreive them from Ghana, and transport them to an official refugee camp for the Ivorian conflict, where I had several contacts, in northern Liberia.
They are adjusting to their new lives. They have jobs, and apartments. Momolu Fofana is the leader of the group, and he reached out to me again on August 5th, 2018. Living in Australia has made him sensitive to the hardships he knows too well of refugees still in the slums of Accra, Ghana. He asked me if I knew of any groups of refugees that were still in need of help. Momolu has volunteered to arrange, and pay for, the immigration process for 21 Liberian refugees, led by a strong woman named Masnoh Taylor, still living near Accra, Ghana, immigrate legally to Australia.
Masnoh Taylor’s group of 21 is currently at the brink of starvation. Her husband passed away years ago, in Buduburam. One of her seven children has also died, but rather than shut down, she is even more motivated to help others like her. Aside from her six kids still living, she cares for a large extended family of refugees she found living on the streets like her. If you are interested in helping them, please let me know! They need food, clothes, and sometime around November 2018, they will need transportation to the Australian High Commission (Embassy) in Ghana for the visa interviews.
I tried to get one last group of Ivorian refugees into the closing refugee camp in Grand Bassa County, Liberia. I sent a chartered United Nations bus to pick up a group of 36 people, lead by Bakayoko Soumailah. They left Accra, Ghana on November 25, 2017, after a nearly a month of delays. We needed to have them to the camp before they stopped accepting new refugees on November 26, 2017. Of course, they were not able to complete the noramlly week-long trip in time, and they were additionally delayed at several border crossings by guards who expected more bribes.
They were not able to get into the closing camp, but they were able to get enrolled into the UN refugee system, and we eventually got them transferred again to Freetown. Of course, that is their home country, but the same one they had fled, and Ivory Coast is still not stable. We were able to get their immigration sponsored by Canada. They flew to Canada in May 2018, and have begun new lives there.
There are 49 former(!) refugees that have been repatriated to Liberia, but who remain without a means to provide for themselves. Most of them are living with Anthony, one of the first refugees I repatriated years ago. He is a Police Sergeant in Kakata, Liberia. It is a small city an hours drive from Monronia, the capitol.
Due to unavoidable changes to my finances, I have recently had to stop my monthly donation to his household for food, and so they are having a very difficult time living on his salary, which is only $600 per month, and through which he also must feed his own wife, and children. To feed them all costs around $2,000 per month, on a diet of rice, cassava, oil,and salt, and that’s not accounting for toiletries like soap or other hygiene products.
Only two rooms of his cinder block home have any kind of roof remaining. His house was destroyed almost completely during the war that made them refugees. So most of the dozens of people with him sleep in the kitchen. To get the commonly used plastic roof over the rest of his house will cost around $700.
Fortunately I now have a network of repatriated refugees whomI have helped build productive lives. This network was able to temporarily take 9 of the people from Anthony reduce his load, three each to three different households, including a very sick young man still recovering from a colon surgery.
So Anthony is currently left with 40 people too many. He can probably handle 6 of them on his salary, in addition to his family.
Opportunities to Help
Paying for food in perpetuity is never the plan, and we are always working on getting jobs for the able-bodied. Jobs in Liberia are often sold in a “legitimate” transactional manner, with a written receipt. I sent money a while ago as a partial payment for the next job that came available, and we are now only $1000 short of getting it. There are other jobs available as well, ranging in cost, salary, and benefits, anywhere from $2800 to $4000.
From time to time I also send money for capital investments that allow people to start their own business. We purchased a car to be used as a taxi service for Benjamin Sumo, and he is using it to earn money, and be self-sufficient, as well as helping out when I need a hand. He took 3 of the people from Anthony, including the sick one who needs medicine.
We currently have an opportunity to buy a bus which could then be used as a transport service, similar to Ben’s taxi. The cost is roughly $10,000. We are still negotiating the price, and still hoping for a way to pay for it. Hence, this fundraiser.
Please donate what you are able, and ask questions if you have them.
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