Campaign Launched To Help Liberians

By Marc Perelman

Published August 22, 2003, issue of August 22, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The American Jewish World Service, a nonprofit group providing support to developing countries, is hoping that the media spotlight on Liberia will help it launch a successful emergency campaign to assist the war- and poverty-stricken West African country.

“As Jews, we have a duty to respond to those emergency situations,” Ruth Messinger, president and executive director of the organization, said at a press conference announcing the fundraising drive on Tuesday. “And as Americans, we have a special relationship with Liberia,” a country founded by former slaves in 1822.

While she did not set a goal for the fundraising effort, the World Service has pledged to set aside $5,000 of its emergency budget in any case, according to spokeswoman Ronni Strongin.

Messinger, a former Democratic New York City mayoral candidate, said that the funds will be geared toward grassroots organizations involved in peace-building.

One of the groups the World Service is seeking to work with is a Liberian nongovernmental organization called the Committee for Peace and Development Advocacy. At the press conference, Committee chairman Jappah Nah gave an emotional and dignified account of his country’s ordeal under the dictatorships of Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor. He expressed cautious optimism about the agreement signed this week between the ruling party and the two main rebel groups envisioning a transitional government that will take power in October.

Nah stressed that Liberia needs to be comprehensively disarmed, the warmongers must be kept away from power and brought to justice and an accountable government put in place.

Nah has been personally affected by the civil war. He left his homeland two years ago for a six-month fellowship at the Carter Center in Atlanta. But he was forced to stay in the United States because his human rights activism had upset the Taylor government. As a result, his wife and three children were held at gunpoint and his home was looted.

Armed thugs also ransacked the office of his organization, and one of its members was charged with treason when an e-mail from a rebel group was allegedly found on his computer.

Nah applied for asylum over a year ago and still has not received a response. He said he wants to see how the situation develops in Liberia before making a decision to go back.

But, he added, his priority now is to generate interest and funnel money to his homeland. And he believes that the historical bond between Liberia and the United States, as well as the images of Liberians welcoming U.S. Marines, is creating a lot of goodwill.

Gerry Martone, the emergency director of the International Rescue Committee that recently went to Liberia, said the heightened media interest and the political changes on the ground were already having a positive impact on donations.

He told the Forward in a separate interview that his group’s budget for Liberia, which stood at $6 million last year, was likely to reach $10 million this year, largely because of an increase in American government funds.






Find us on Facebook!
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.