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Proposing Collaboratives for Liberian Organizations

There are so many Liberian organizations here in the United States and that is a good thing. There are already many churches, many county organizations and their sub groups. There are even ethnic based organizations like the Mandingo, Klao, Sarpo, Bassa, etc. There are many schools or alumni organizations from grade school to colleges and universities. These are all good things and present many opportunities to help our country as it recovers from bloodshed and robbery.

But there is a fundamental problem that I see with these many organizations and that is fragmentation. I see that we are so fragmented and don’t seem connected at any point. While the intra-organization bounds may be strong and viable, there is no inter-organizational relationship whatsoever. Probably not on purpose, but we have not recognized the need to collaborate and collectively deal with problems and opportunities that are common to all of us. Although we all seem to have a common denominator – Liberia, the way we seek to help this common denominator is so fragmented, disjointed and individualistic that the impact on Liberia has been very minimal if not adverse.

A case in point is that we have not found a way to collectively deal with the problem of fights and breakups in many organizations although this is a common problem facing almost ALL these organizations including religious organizations. We may have forgotten all about the things we learned as kids growing up with our parents emphasized in expressions like “one tree cannot make a forest,” “one finger cannot pick a louse,” “it takes two fingers to get salt from a jar” and so forth. So unfortunate that we have been using one finger to pick our lice or get the salt from the jar and foolishly thinking that a single tree can make up an entire forest. This is not getting us any where and it is about time we realized that we have been going in cycles.

While I don’t have a magic solution, I propose that we find a way to link Liberian organizations of the same kind and do some work together. County organizations for example must strike good working relationships with other county organizations to benchmark, share success stories and learn from one another. We have to realize that as Liberians we are all conjoined at the hip and what affects one affects all. Grand Bassa County, for example, cannot be immune from an outburst of an epidemic in say Rivercess or Margibi. If the road from Sinoe to Grand Gedeh is not paved, there is no way buyers from Sinoe can travel to buy from a shopping mall in Tchien. Business in Gbarpolu is adversely affected by what goes on in Lofa. So it is na├»ve to think that we can just concentrate on our respective counties while remaining oblivious to the struggles of other counties or compete with them for scare resources. For instance, if there was a magic $10,000.00 available for hand pump project, we can all decide which county gets it while the other county go for the other magic $10000 available for a toilet project instead of slicing it in three to have 3 incomplete projects in three counties.

One way we can collectively address these problems and opportunities is to form collaboratives that will identify problems devise solutions to the surmountable problems we face as a nation. These collaboratives can comprise “experts” and laypersons from all county organizations that will work on specific subject areas. Besides solving common problems, we can identify appropriate projects that fit our specific needs. Take for instance, if Bomi County is working on a cable TV project, it can work with Cape Mount County which was contemplating on the same project. Cape Mount can therefore probably engage in a hydro project that will supply Bomi as well why Bomi’s cable TV station can benefit Cape Mount also. The two counties can exchange experts and other resources to work on those projects.

This can be the same deal with our alumni associations. There is actually no point pumping all the money and resources in our individual high schools in isolation if our effort is not in sync with the body responsible for schools-the Ministry of education. If for example, the Ministry of Education does not mean business; our support for our individual alma maters will be useless. Maybe if we come together as a group strong enough to help the ministry, the trickle down effect will prop-up the educational system which will be strong enough to help all schools including those ones that have no representation in the United States. Take for instance, instead of one alumni association struggling to build a library for its high school, we can all pull our little resources together to build one big public library or resources center that will benefit all schools and serve as a gold standard for what we will want to see.

Done in isolation, we are like various specialist treating specific parts on the same body without talking to each other. Often the result is unpleasant if not catastrophic and we don’t want that for our country still dragging to rise up from inertia.

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