The relocation of our Refugee Orphan Home at Buduburam Refugee Camp, to ZuannahTown, Royesville, Liberia was launched on May 16, 2012. More than two years in development, this is a daunting but necessary undertaking. It brings together multiple government agencies, communities, donors, and individuals, all required to dedicate their best efforts for the sake of these precious children and youth, at least 19 of whom are part of the "Move to Liberia". This page outlines the rationale, the plan, key players, budgets, timetables, and other pertinent details to ensure a successful and timely relocation.
SLIDESHOW OF RECENT PHOTOS AT THE HEARTWOOD ORPHAN HOME IN ZUANNAHTOWN, LIBERIA
Logistics of Moving our People to Liberia
From June 3 to July 31, 2012 all of the children and young adults (19), full time staff (5), and their children (4) will move to the new Home in ZuannahTown as part of the UN’s Voluntary Repatriation Package. Since our organization doesn’t have legal permission to transport the children, they will be traveling with Liberian adult refugees they already know and with whom they are linked in the UN’s refugee database. As they children return to Liberia the LRRRC will welcome them into Liberia and help us to settle them into the Heartwood Orphan Home in ZuannahTown. Rufus, the director at the Home, will repatriate with his family first, followed by the children, then finally Lennie and Esther, the patron and matron, will come last after all children have left Ghana, and once our physical assets (bunk beds, ovens, sewing machines, etc…) are safely being escorted in our mini-bus. Once we are moved in, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare will accept our application for accreditation as an approved "alternative child welfare institution", and will identify additional children who would be suitable for placement at the Heartwood Orphan Home.
Details of the Home’s new location in ZuannahTown:
We were fortunate to secure a 5 year lease and pre-pay two years on a beautiful short-term location in ZuannahTown, on Royesville’s SandBeach, on the border between Montserrado and Bomi counties, Liberia. ZuannahTown is small rural community about an hour drive north-west of Monrovia, bordering the Atlantic Ocean and the Po River, and consisting of about 20 houses in a peaceful community of agriculturalists and fishers. ZuannahTown used to include a Sierra Leonean refugee camp, and still has a school and clinic built (but no longer funded) by the UN.
Our leased property includes 3 houses (4bd, 3bd, 2bd) on almost 2 acres of land, which is perfectly suited to the needs of the Orphan Home. There are 2 basic medical clinics within 10-20 minutes and a major hospital within 45 minutes, public and private educational institutions are nearby, and we are away from the noise, pollution, and insecurity of an urban center. Due to the productiveness of the land, we anticipate 90% food self-sufficiency within 3-6 months, thanks to the mature mango, coconut, plantain, papaya, and bread fruit trees, the abundant fish supply in the Po River and Atlantic Ocean, and over an acre of rich soil from which we will harvest corn, kassava, vegetables, yams, potato greens, and more. Children and staff will also use skills obtained at our Vocational Training Center over the past 2 years to make their own soap, bake their own bread, and sew their own clothing.
VIDEO INTRODUCTION TO OUR ZUANNAHTOWN PROPERTY
Before we can move in, and to become accredited as a Child Welfare Institution in Liberia, some renovations and upgrades to the property will be necessary, we will have to transport our current physical assets from Buduburam, and we’ll invest in additional equipment to operate the Home. Renovations and upgrades will include: fence the compound; build a latrine/shower facility with septic system; install a hand dug well with a bore hole to provided a dedicated, treated water source; upgrade the kitchen and pantry; electrify the buildings and purchase a generator; renovate the buildings to meet security and safety standards; purchase a passenger van; relocate our equipment from Buduburam to ZuannahTown.
Update: On 6-21-12 an anonymous donor family has pledged funds to cover the renovation of the buildings, thereby securing the complete establishment of the new orphan home. Additional funds are still required to implement self-help programs for the orphans who graduate from the Home at age 18.
Property details of the permanent location of the Africa Heartwood Project Community in Liberia
After two years of looking for a parcel of land suitable for our permanent location in Liberia, through our able partners in Monrovia we have finally found it! We have a verbal agreement with the owners to purchase 10 consecutive acres of land on Royesville’s SandBeach, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Po River, about 1 mile from our current location in ZuannahTown. The land is owned by a family who has produced a legitimate deed, free and clear, available for purchase in the name of the registered Liberian NGO, Africa Heartwood Project – Liberia. We are currently undertaking an independent survey and court investigation of the land, which must have favorable results guaranteeing our security in the transaction before any funds will be committed. The cost to purchase is $750 USD per 1/4 acre plot, or $30,000 USD total – a great value considering relative price-per-plot in the area, and considering the difficulty of finding that large of a parcel within 1 hour drive from Monrovia. An anonymous donors has pledged the balance of funds required to purchase the land in the name of Africa Heartwood Project. Additional funds are required to develop the land and build the campus.
PHOTOS OF THE 10 ACRES IN ROYESVILLE
The land is well suited to our long term objectives in Liberia as a non-profit social enterprise. The quality and location is excellent, providing ample opportunity for financial sustainability over time in terms of productivity of the land for food, and also for attracting mid- to long-term volunteers and generating income by way of prime beach-front property. As site plans are developed for the 3 campuses that will comprise our new community this web page will be updated. For now, please watch these 2 unedited videos that quickly introduce you the future location of Africa Heartwood Project – Liberia!
SOUTH BEACH BORDER (VIDEO)
NORTH RIVER BORDER (VIDEO)
RATIONALE, PLANNING, AND PARTNERS
- To fund the temporary location (5 year lease of 3 houses on 2 acres of productive land in a safe, semi-rural community – ZuannahTown, Royesville) with all required building renovations, equipment, vehicle, generator, water well, septic system, perimeter fence, etc.. will cost about $35,000 USD, of which $8,000 USD has been paid. To be completed by June 30, 2012. Donations received as of 7-4-12 are sufficient to complete this phase.
- To purchase 10 acres of productive land near our ZuannahTown location, in an ideal location for the permanent and expanded campus for all AHP projects in Liberia, will cost $30,000 USD + $4,000 USD, including survey, probate, and secure title in the name of the NGO. To be completed between June and September 2012. Donations received as of 7-4-12 are sufficient to complete this phase.
- To develop the land and build necessary structures and infrastructure will cost an as of yet undetermined amount of funds. As site plans and development and construction quotes are received we will update this page with projections. Our plan builds in complete financial self-sustainability within 1 year of completion of construction, through use of the land and exploitation of prime location. To be completed between July 2012 and July 2013.
Why the Move to Liberia was necessary (written before the Move began):
- We believe the best likelihood for a successful, fulfilling, self-determined life for our orphan children is found in Liberia. We know Buduburam. We know Ghana. We know Liberia. We know the children. Liberia is the best option.
- Buduburam Refugee Settlement is in the process of being closed down permanently. Virtually all social support services previously provided to Buduburam refugees will be discontinued by government and UN agencies on June 30, 2012. Our Liberian staff and children must leave Ghana as part of the Voluntary Repatriation program administered by the UN.
- Our work at Buduburam has not been officially recognized by camp authorities up to this point. While we will continue to work with UNHCR, DSW, and GRB to plan for the future well being of the children, we wish to comply with the official position of these authorities that Liberians should voluntarily repatriate as soon as possible.
- The general environment at Buduburam is morally destructive, physically filthy, and otherwise not conducive to the proper rearing of children and youth, espeically adolescent girls.
- It is very difficult for a Liberian refugee to succeed in Ghana due to political, socio-cultural, racial, and language constraints that prevent access to the labor market, educational and social services, and financial support systems typically available to Ghanaian nationals.
- Our children have the right to grow up in a country where they have rights and freedom as citizens, where they are welcomed as participating members of civil society, and where they have equal opportunities for education, employment, and social fulfillment.
- It may be more expensive to sustain the Orphan Home at Buduburam than it will be in Liberia, due to the higher cost of food and supplies, education, transportation, and rent at Buduburam.
- The children want to return as long as they are kept safe, can go to school, and remain together as a group under the care of Africa Heartwood Project.
- Phase 1 – Feasibility Study: Completed March 2010 and June 2011.
- Phase 2 – Networking and Planning: Started March 2010, ongoing through 2012.
- Phase 3 – Orphan History Profile compilation: Start August 2010, end by July 2011
- Phase 4 – Gov’t Cooperation: Start June 2010 to May 2012.
- Phase 5 – Fundraising & Resources: Start August 2010
- Phase 6 – Logistics Preparation : Jan-June 2012 (land/buildings leased in Royesville, Liberia; plans made for transport of physical items from Ghana and purchase of vehicle)
- Phase 7 – Relocation : Via the UN’s voluntary repatriation program, all children and staff are registered to be transported back to Liberia, May-July 2012
- Phase 8 – Establishment and Integration : Projected June-Sept 2012
- Phase 9 – Re-evaluate and Revise
- Phase 10 – Expansion
- Phase 11 – Maintenance
- Department of Social Welfare (DSW) in Ghana
- Ghana Refugee Board (GRB) in Ghana
- LRRRC in Liberia
- Embassy of Liberia in Ghana
- UNHCR – Protection and Community Services in Ghana
- Government Ministries in Liberia: Foreign Affairs; Planning & Economic Affairs; Health and Social Welfare
- AHP Directors Staff in the United States, Ghana, and Liberia