Last year when we launched “the dollar for peace campaign” to strengthen and expand the peace clubs in schools and communities initiative, no one thought of the Ebola epidemic that stunned the people and economy of the country.The news of the Ebola outbreak, as we were rounding up our fundraising campaign, did not resonate with most Liberians and again, no one within Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia knew we were actually raising funds for Ebola prevention and control activities.The MOP takes a rear view look at our 2014 report card, the challenges, achievements and impact of our programs. As you have noticed from our weekly column, we have worked hard with the Liberian public and communities to enhance the contents of our programs.We didn’t commemorate the International Day of Peace, as we wanted to because of the Ebola crisis. The focus of so many of our efforts, during 2014, continued to center on the epidemic. While we did not get to expand our peace clubs into other counties and schools due to the closure of schools, we were able to engage many young persons in the fight against Ebola.MOP-Liberia mobilized over 100 young volunteers in and around Montserrado for community education outreach program. We produced several information and educational materials on Ebola. We helped in the distribution of Ebola awareness materials, raising promotional items and training hundreds of children in the techniques of basic hand washing.In post-Ebola recovery, MOP-Liberia’s priority for this year would focus on the campaign “Ebola Educates,” to deal with EVD myths, issues of false information, stigma and discrimination and conspiracy theory of source of infection.There is an urgent need to improve the coordination of efforts and the sharing of information. We need to prepare the next generation of young people for future outbreak and finance, according to Joachim von Amsberg, a Vice President at the World Bank, “…can be a strong driver of preparedness”. We can no longer be seen to be tardy and sluggish in our approach to disease outbreaks. We must learn from our past mistakes, document our success stories and educate generations on how our resilience and tenacity paid off.Building on last year’s debut and as the fight to burn out the EVD continues, amid hopeful signs of the disease receding, MOP-Liberia hopes to raise additional funds to tell the stories of how it all began; how we managed to cope with the deadliest disease of our generation and how survivors were re-integrated into the society.The purpose of the MOP-Liberia is to build and strengthen the support we need to sustain our peace advocacy efforts. Thanks to you for your support during the year 2014. Even though we lost a significant few of our partnership during 2014, we would like to take this opportunity to thank our strategic partners, Daily Observer, Liberia Peacebuilding Office (PBO), The Carter Center Liberia, Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP), Shirley Ann Sullivan Educational Foundation (SASEF), UNMIL, board-members, volunteer peace messengers and Friends of MOP-Liberia that stood with us through our very difficult and happy moments. We owe our growth to you.We hope that as we launch our next fund raising campaign, it will stimulate us all to better collaboration in 2015.Until next week, when we come to you with another article on: “Ebola Educates”, Peace First, Peace above all else, May Peace prevail on earth.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Photo: NOAAThe U.S. House this evening began debate on a bill by Alaska Congressman Don Young to renew the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the nation’s primary fishing law. Actually, lawmakers just debated how they’re going to debate the legislation. Meanwhile, the White House has issued a policy statement criticizing Young’s bill, suggesting the president would veto it.The White House, like environmental groups and some small-boat fishermen, disapproves of the flexibility written into Young’s bill. It would give regional management councils more leeway to set catch limits and rebuild stocks. The White House says Young’s flexible approach would put fish stocks at risk. Young spokesman Matthew Shuckerow says the Congressman is still listening to stakeholders and he says the bill is likely to change in the legislative process ahead.Download Audio:“We believe, and Congressman Young believes, it’s entirely premature for the president to discuss vetoing the legislation at this time,” Shuckerow said.Young says some regions of the country don’t have enough fish data to employ the rigid science-based model that’s been so successful in the North Pacific. Critics, though, say if catch limits aren’t tied to science, councils will be pressured to let fishermen take too much, depleting the resource.That very debate played out on the other side of the Capitol today, in a Senate subcommittee hearing on fisheries data. Sen. Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., made a passionate plea for the cod fishermen of New England. Their catch limit, the senator says, was slashed 75 percent in a single year.“And then when I look back over the course of five years, the total cut is 95 percent. I do not know a business that could take a 95 percent cut and continue to operate,” she said.Kathryn Sullivan, the head of NOAA (and, incidentally, the first American woman to walk in space) told Ayotte she does care about fishermen, but she says the cod of New England are in dire trouble, in danger of never recovering.“We’re obliged by law to set catch limits that ensure we do not have over fishing occurring on a stock, and with a stock that’s at 3 percent of its biomass. That is a disasterously low number,” she said.Ayotte says that’s not her only duty: “You’re also obliged by law to think about the economic impact.”Ayotte says the fishermen have no confidence in NOAA’s grim stock assessment because it doesn’t match what they’re seeing on the water. The NOAA Administrator told her there’s a place for fishermen’s observations, but it’s not always the most accurate picture.“Cod are known to school in very large aggregations and when they aggregate that way it becomes easier to catch the fish and that can give … sometimes a false impression,” she said.A Senate bill to renew the Magnuson Stevens Act hasn’t emerged yet. The full House is likely to begin debate on Young’s version of the bill in early June, after the Memorial Day recess.