PUBLIC SERVICE/VOLUNTEERISM

In response to the many needs of  the West African refugees and   war victims  including other low income families, many of whom work long hours at low-income jobs for survival, I formed African Refuge, Inc., in partnership with the Executive Director of the International Trauma Studies Program, Jack M. Saul, Ph.D., a New York State license psychosocial therapist.

Between the late spring of 2004 and the winter of  2006, I had multiple reconstructive orthopedic surgeries at  Bellevue  Hospital in New  York City, where doctors employed the Ilizarov Techniques on my injured leg. The Ilizarov fixation device was on my right leg on a 24-hour daily basis. The pain was excruciating and agonizing. Eventually, I achieved a full recovery and have since regained the full use of my right leg.

All of this was possible through the blessings of God Almighty (through Jesus Christ my Lord) and the benevolence of   Jack M. Saul, PhD, ITSP, Survival of Torture Program at Bellevue Hospital, Church Avenue Merchant Block Association (CAMBA), Ms. Flutra Gorana, Safe Horizon Solace Program, Ms. Serena Chaudhry, Ms. Megan Perlleshi, my distinguished surgeons and primary care doctor, the nurses and frontline staff at Bellevue Hospital and everyone whose name I may not have mentioned.

Above all, my rewarding experience can also be attributed to the good work of the  founding fathers of the great America who fought for freedom and built a nation of hope, free from fear and intimidation; those who envisioned a nation that would serve as refuge to the oppressed and a home to the weak and brokenhearted.  As I found out, irrespective of ethnicity and religious creed, a man could come from anywhere in the world, play by the rules, and rise to the top in the United States, a country endowed with the spirit of compassion, love, patriotism, and service to humanity. That American experience has also conditioned my outlook on life.

Despite the many catastrophic events I’ve experienced, I have always kept a positive outlook on life.  Instead of harboring the pain and resentment towards the perpetrators of the war and those who tried to hurt me, I redirect my energy into making a difference in the world.

During my time in Liberia, my work centered on human rights, HIV/AIDS, and environmental awareness, promotion of volunteerism, and humanitarian assistance to children orphaned by the brutal civil war in Liberia.   In February 1998, I co-founded Free Teens Liberia, Inc. a non-profit volunteer organization with the mission of promoting human rights, alleviating the plight of disadvantaged children, and combating the spread of HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, and drug and substance abuse among teenagers through abstinence-based education.

From August 2000 to February 2002, I served as the Country Representative of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE).  I was responsible for the coordination of activities surrounding the United Nations International Year of Volunteers (IYV2001) and its follow-up activities in Liberia. In November of 2000, I successfully co-founded Call Management, Inc. a social entrepreneur venture engaged in the sales of computer hardware and accessories, internet telephone service, and other communication technology solutions, to support the work of both Free Teens, Inc. and IAVE.

Since arriving in the United States, I have continued to volunteer for good causes, even under extreme circumstances. In the fall of 2004, while recovering from the reconstructive surgeries, I served as a volunteer mentor for Joint Action for Community Services (JACS), a national volunteer organization engaged in helping graduates of Job Corps integrate into mainstream society. This experience subsequently strengthened the process of developing African Refuge, Inc. From 2005-2010, I served as a member of Staten Island  Community Board #1, a statutory local community representative body of the New York city government. From 2008-2010, I served as  First Vice President of the Executive Board, Community Health Center of Richmond, a federally qualified community health center created to provide health services to the uninsured and low-income families on Staten Island. I served as a member of  Staten Island Ryan White HIV/AIDS Coordinating Committee, an advocacy group campaigning for quality care for HIV/AIDS victims and prevention programs and services.

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