While attending an international book trading fair in February 2002, I met an African gentleman who looked to be in his 50s and was manning a booth displaying artifacts from Africa. He turned out to be the Liberian ambassador to Taiwan. We had a short discussion and he was interested in our work, so we exchanged name cards.
When the political situation in Liberia deteriorated in June 2003, I called the Liberian ambassador to discuss how we could work together to provide some relief for Liberia. Members of the Family International in Taiwan and Okinawa responded swiftly to the appeal, and collected and forwarded donations from local sponsors to fill a 40-foot container—clothing, shoes, industrial water filters, powdered milk, etc.—as well as cash donations.
An article was published in the local newspaper appealing for more help, and it soon came rolling in. The ambassador appointed me executive project director of the Taiwan-Liberia Emergency Relief Network, the NGO he had set up to provide relief to Liberia. It's wonderful to play such a part in this worthy cause.
Liberia Receives Aid From Private Sector
Taipei Times, Wednesday, June 25, 2003
"We need tents because the people are sleeping outside. We need sleeping bags, dehydrated foods, and mosquito repellant," said Liberian ambassador John Cummings in a press conference yesterday.
"The supply is dwindling," Cummings said, adding that a growing number of refugees are sleeping in a roofless football stadium in the Liberian capital in Monrovia.
DPP Legislator Lai Chin-lin, who joined Cummings at the press conference, said the non-governmental sector should step up its efforts in offering humanitarian aid to Taiwan's diplomatic ally.
Reminding citizens of the timber Liberia shipped to Taiwan in an attempt to help rebuild homes in the wake of the 921 earthquakes, Lai said it's time for Taiwanese to lend a hand to their Liberian counterparts.
The Rotary Club of Luchou, Taipei County, has already agreed to donate US$10,000 to purchase much-needed items for the Liberian refugees in need of help, Lai said.
The ambassador said the materials would be channeled into the hands of Liberian refugees through a local branch of the Rotary Club in the name of the newly founded Taiwan-Liberia Emergency Relief Network.
Originally Published in 2003.