Rebuilding Liberia By The Boatload
Firestone extends through 2007 program that helps nonprofits send aid to Liberia
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., and HARBEL, Liberia, West Africa (May 17, 2007)- Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia, with more than 1 million people, is gradually trying to restore basic civil services such as electricity, sanitation and clean water. The West African nation lost all of these during 14 years of internal chaos that claimed as many as 300,000 lives and destroyed the country’s infrastructure, social services and government institutions.
Against this backdrop, some people and groups have chosen to criticize the slow nature of the redevelopment process, or worse, call the situation hopeless. But there are other groups—humanitarian organizations that see the hope for rebuilding—that are sending that hope to Liberia on one Firestone ship at a time.
Firestone, which began operations in the country in 1926, has regularly transported food and equipment to Liberia and brought back liquid latex and block/dry rubber from its agricultural operation. Beginning in July 2006, Firestone opened up space on its ships for containers carrying relief goods and other donated cargo from aid organizations. Due to the interest from nonprofits and the program’s success, Firestone is extending this program through the end of 2007.
Since the program started, more than two dozen shipments have fulfilled the program’s approval requirements and been scheduled for shipping to the port of Monrovia. Estimates provided by the humanitarian organizations put the value of this donated cargo at more than $1.35 million USD.
“I thank Firestone Rubber Company for its partnership with us in helping bring transformation to Liberia after many years of war and turmoil,” said John De Jager, President and Founder of Partners for Learning Across Cultures, a Grand Rapids, Mich., nonprofit that encourages parents, churches and schools around the world to establish partnerships to promote the learning process across cultural boundaries. “Firestone’s donation of transporting the cargo of school equipment and supplies to Liberia enabled us to move much more quickly in building a viable education program for the under-served children of Liberia.”
Ardie Bucher, a member of College Park Church in Indianapolis, Ind., said, “The Firestone program has allowed us to reach many children in Liberia with food, medicine and supplies that are sorely needed.” Bucher traveled to Liberia to meet the ship carrying the cargo donated by his church, and he was able to see the aid reach its final destination, the Bethesda Christian School, 13 miles outside Monrovia.
The cargo space is available to qualified charitable organizations with the ocean freight expense covered by Firestone. Under the program, each ship headed to Liberia will reserve several containers worth of space for relief goods and other donated cargo. Firestone will accept non-perishable foods, medical supplies, new/used clothing, school books and supplies and deliver it to Monrovia for the people of Liberia as directed by the donating charity.
“We’ve been moved by the generosity of the humanitarian groups that we’ve met through our donation cargo program in the past year,” said Dan Adomitis, President, Firestone Natural Rubber Company. “Rebuilding a country after more than a decade of destructive war will take a considerable amount of time, money and effort, but the groups we’ve worked with are showing the world has great hope for Liberia’s future. I feel blessed that we at Firestone have been and will continue to be a part of that.”
Charitable organizations interested in shipping items to Liberia can fill out an application found at the company’s Web site, www.FirestoneNaturalRubber.com and e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org together with a scanned copy of the organization’s 501(c)(3) certificate.