Help Refugees with Hope For Tomorrow, Liberia
Organized by: Peter Boling
Consolidation in Fundraising Industry
September 08, 2018
My name is Peter Boling, and you can find out more about me all over the web (my tech blog, linkedin, github, angel list, crunch base, coderwall, about.me, my resume, my personal blog). I am a dedicated humanitarian, and care deeply about alleviating human suffering, so I help where I can.
I have been working with Liberian and Ivorian refugees living in West Africa for several years. I have repatriated hundreds of refugees to Liberiaso far, relocated 41 Ivorians to Australia, 36 Ivorians to Canada, and have 21 Liberians still waiting for help in Ghana.
The process of helping a refugee family or individual stabilize their life is rewarding and surprisingly simple. Read more on the current state of the crisis.
All of the money I send goes through a single contact who I have known for many years in Liberia. He ensures that the funds make it to the intended project or recipient, and that they are utilized in an appropriate manner.
There are many ongoing costs in this project which I bear, and as a result my resources are stretched to the point where I have to ask for help to do more.
1. Getting people jobs in Liberia is a process of paying bribes. The existing employees determine an amount that a new position is worth, and then they sell the position to someone they know. Refugees I send back will find jobs for sale for anywhere from:
• $350 for a really low paying job - under $100 / month with no benefits),
• $1,200 for a mid-range job - $350 / month with school tuition for minors, and/or housing,
• $3,500 for a "good" job - over $600 / month with school tuition for minors, food assistance, and complete housing benefits.
Buying jobs for the recently returned refugees is the top priority. Interviews are not part of the process in the Liberian job market. Jobs go to those who can pay.
As a testament to how poor most people are, job "postings" will often stay open for months, because buying a new job costs several month's salary. I know of muliple openings right now, all costing over $3000, which have been available for over a month.
I have purchased 2 plots of land in Liberia on the edge of Kakata, and have begun construction on two homes which will be for the use of the refugees. Completion of the homes will cost about $4,000 in materials and labor, per each.
As foreigners are not allowed to be land-owners in Liberia the land is held by Anthony, the Kakata policeman, and he also coordinates all my efforts in Liberia.
Once these houses are complete any remaining of the 49 refugees currently without a way to provide for themselves will move there and begin farming.
Why were there Liberian refugees in Ghana?
Two Liberian civil wars, one in the 1990s and another in the 2000s caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the forced migration of many more. Most have been repatriated since and the UN stopped their Liberian refugee support mission in Ghana in 2013, but had not actually resolved the entire refugee problem and thousands of refugees remained. The Ghanian government has been bulldozing the old refugee camp, in a dour attempt to force the remaining refugees elsewhere, and that is why I rent apartments in the nearby metropolis of Kasoa. There is a lot more information about the Liberian civil wars and refugee situation on Wikipedia and various UN reports.
How do people "born" in exile become orphans?
The most common scenario is that the fathers (less common to begin with, as many were killed in Liberia) would venture out to find work elsewhere in Africa, and it was the last the children ever saw of their father, or they would die due to the diseases endemic to the refugee life in Ghana, where sanitation was not well managed.
Liberian women had a hard time finding work to support their children, and many of them were forced into sexual slavery, and would be beaten if they refused to have sex without protection. As a result many of them died of AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases.
How does repatriation work?
When I can raise enough money to send a group back to Liberia I buy them bus tickets and pay for them to get the proper documents so they can cross the Ivorian borders without issues.
Bus tickets are normally $130 USD, and the trip takes around a week because the roads are bad and there are many security checkpoints, so I also send them with some money for food on the road, about $50 per person.
Several times I've chartered busses when I have dozens of people to transport at once. This costs thousands of dollars, but is less risky.
Once they arrive in Liberia I have a large network of people to help get them settled.
Establishing new lives after repatriation
I have began sending refugees back years ago, and those refugees are now established in good jobs. I have refugees working in the police force, in hospitals, and in various other companies, like Firestone Rubber.
The new ex-refugees stay with the established ones until they can find jobs and housing of their own.
Hope For Tomorrow
My personal work with Ben goes back several years, and Hope For Tomorrow was officially founded as a legally recognized Liberian NGO in Novermber 2015, and scans of the founding registration documents can be reviewed on the Facebook page for this effort: https://www.facebook.com/hope.for.tomorrow.liberia/
The purpose of "Hope For Tomorrow" is not to get a tax write off. It is to improve lives. Complicating matters with US taxes and IRS oversight is not currently something we have bandwidth for.
I will post updates with more information as people request it and as I get it. Thanks for caring, and thanks for donating!
• First photo is of Anthony Carr Kao, now a police man in Kakata, Liberia. The photo was taken in November 2013, when he was still a refugee in Ghana, before I helped his family repatriate.
• Second and third photos are of the Liberian NGO registration document. I had to chop it in two because CrowdRise only support square photos and it is not a square document. The non-cropped version here on the Facebook page.
Also shoutout to Andy Jones, who has been an invaluable advisor on this project. His Liberian NGO charity, Africa Heartwood Project, is also an excellent cause. You can read more about him and his charity too!
Note on taxes: Hope For Tomorrow is *not* registered as a charity in the USA, only Liberia.