General discussion


Life in the Liberian refugee camp in Ghana

By jardinier ·
This is not really a discussion although any comments are of course welcome.

Through a Christian matchmaking website I was contacted by a 28-year-old Liberian girl, Magdalene, who had lost touch with her parents (probably murdered) during her flight from her war-ravished homeland to the Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana.

As I have learnt to be suspicious of enquiries from young African girls, I asked her to send me details about conditions in the camp so as to verify that she was genuine.

Along with an email outlining her personal situation, she sent me the following links.

You will see that despite the most horrendous conditions, the refugees -- with a lot of help from outsiders -- are doing whatever they can to become self reliant.

I just thought we should take a moment or two to reflect on how lucky we are in our affluent societies.

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And that is the direction in which all aid

by road-dog In reply to Life in the Liberian refu ...

should be directed. Unfortunately, it seems that aid seems to become a never-ending morass of graft and corruption supporting those who perpetuate the miseries of the nation needing assistance.

I get cynical sometimes and feel that aid may not really be helping. For instance, if well-intentioned aid goes to feed troops committing atrocities rather than saving lives, is giving aid really a Christ-like act? I know that intent means a lot, but at what point does aid become part of the problem, instead of part of the solution?

Are we as Christians (or whatever) responsible to assure that proper stewardship is applied to aid BEFORE giving aid, or do we simply "donate and hope" that the funds really go where they are needed?

I agree that conditions are best described as "**** on earth", but so much of that area is perpetually in upheaval and one cannot say with any certainty that aid will actually improve things in any meaningful way.

Like giving money to a street person, giving aid funds can be a form on enablement.

I am indeed thankful for the opportunities and protections that provide our amazing standard of living here in the US. Misery is perpetual because of man's evils. Maybe our reflections should include asking for divine guidance on those fundamental questions....

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If we do not "donate and hope"

by neilb@uk In reply to And that is the direction ...

sometimes, then how can we donate at all - especially in an emergency like the Tsunami?

Personally, I know nothing about the Liberian conflict other than the headlines concerning child soldiers. It doesn't take X-ray vision, though, to know that the reconstruction of Liberia won't be possible without huge amounts of money and commitment when the war finally does end.

Trust me, Liberia (founded, by the way, by freed American and Carribean slaves) is so unbelievably "in upheaval" that your dollar and my pound certainly won't make it worse.


By the way, ask for "divine guidance". Let me know what answer you get.

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Yes Neil

by jardinier In reply to If we do not "donate and ...

We know you are an atheist. You remind us ad nauseam.

Take a grip on yourself, man. You are becoming as repetitively boring as a "Born Again" Christian.

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Who rattled your cage?

by neilb@uk In reply to Yes Neil

Raod-Dog was the one who brought up "Maybe our reflections should include asking for divine guidance on those fundamental questions..."

And I'm not allowed to ask (again) what He would have to say? Perhaps if I got a sensible answer - perhaps if I got any answer - I would give it a rest but seeing as I haven't so far...

You ask God and let me know. You're a mate of his, aren't you? Then I'll stop.


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"You're a mate of his, aren't you?"

by jardinier In reply to Yes Neil

Now wherever did you get that idea? Not from any of my posts that I recall.

My view of "God" is very simple. There is an intelligence innate in the universe which created the universe out of itself. This intelligence is impartial and does not grant favours to individuals.

HOWEVER for decades I have maintained an understanding with the God of the Old Testament (and hence the God of the Jews, Christians and Muslims) that he is a cantankerous old ******* who takes delight in making life as difficult as possible for humans.

When something especially nice happens to me, I say: "The old ******* got it right for a change."

I hope you now understand that I am in no way a friend of God.

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Good post

by amcol In reply to Life in the Liberian refu ...

I work for a Federal agency involved with the US foreign aid program. I've been to Ghana, and several other countries one can only characterize as being poverty for the poor. Conditions there are quite literally beyond imagination.

It makes me angry to contemplate that here we are, in the opening moments of the third millenium, and there are hundreds of millions of people in the world who lack any of the basics to sustain life, people whose full time occupation is simple survival...yet they're failing miserably at it. It makes me even angrier to listen to people in any of the industrialized countries, but especially here in the US, complain about anything. We have no idea how good we have it. One need only spend a couple of days in Madagascar, or Nicaragua, or Mali, or Honduras, or Benin, or Armenia, or any one of dozens of countries to get a completely different outlook on life. Our little petty problems pale in comparison.

Watch a mother of ten children, all of whom are malnourished and suffering from multiple diseases, beg for a cup of water or a mouthful of food just to make it through the I have. Then tell me about how hard it is to make the mortgage payment on your house in the suburbs, or how bad a commute you have, or that your boss speaks sharply to you once in a while, or that the guy in the next cube talks too loudly on the phone or has a stinky lunch. Please.

Thanks for reminding us how right you are, that we're all damn lucky to have what we have. Something to contemplate in this holiday season as we all gather to celebrate with our families, no matter what religion we are.

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Magdalene is financially self sufficient

by jardinier In reply to Life in the Liberian refu ...

After exchanging several emails with Magdalene I am quite satisfied that she is honest.

Here is the text of one of her emails:

Hi Julian:
Thanks for asking those questions.
I will like to answer them one by one. First I will like to tell you that I am not supply with clothes or food from any source or organization. I am self supported here on the refugee camp. I some times work in the cafe to where I browse to get my living going. Sometimes I wash clothes for the citizen here and they pay me little of nothing, but just to survive, I have to do it.

Situations are very hard here for us refugees. We are not given job to do, our children homeless and parentless. Some are in Orphanage home which is not up to date. Food, education, health and sanitation are the major problem we are faced with here right now.

Can you imagine we have to pay before we use the latrine, before we get good drinking water? Sicknesses kills everyday here because of the lack of toilet and dirty environment.

Some are here because they lost their parents like me, others are hunted by the rebels in the country. Some have been out for 15 years now and do not know how to start life if they return home. It is very sympathetic. I am writing you with tears falling from my eyes.

I have invited Magdalene to assist me with two of my websites -- check for spelling errors, out of date stories, and search the web for new stories.

Here is her response to that offer:

"Hi Julian:
I will really like to do what are want me to do. That is a good ideal for me. I will really love to be a part and at the end of the day know that something good will come out for me."

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