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first_imgLast 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)last_img read more

first_imgWednesday evening, Bush and Blair dined on she-crab soup, wagyu beef and potatoes, and rhubarb-strawberry napolean. The pair then sat on the Truman Balcony, peering out over Washington’s monuments as they chatted into the night. After breakfast Thursday morning, Blair strolled with Bush from the residence to the Oval Office – though he was left cooling his heels on the patio while the president received his daily intelligence briefing. There was yet another perk: a trip to the newly renovated and top-secret Situation Room in the basement of the White House for an hour-long secure videoconference between the two leaders and their countries’ representatives in Iraq. Bush and Blair have cooperated on Iran, on the Middle East, on fighting malaria, AIDS and genocide in Africa, and on the global anti-terror battle, among a host of pressing issues. There have been few clues from Blair’s successor, Treasury chief Gordon Brown, about whether Britain’s stance will shift in Iraq, where it is the second-largest contributor of troops. Blair suggested it would not, though it was unclear whether he was offering knowledge or opinion. “I believe we will remain a staunch and steadfast ally in the fight against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere,” he said. “There is no alternative for us but to fight it wherever it exists.” The American and British leaders found common ground on Iraq in their first meeting, barely a month after Bush became president. Appearing together at snowy, rustic Camp David, they stood firm on strong sanctions against Saddam Hussein. Back then, they found little else to bind them. The conservative U.S. president was asked what he shared with Blair, the younger and liberal prime minister who had been so close – in style and substance – to President Clinton. All Bush could manage (it was said later he thought the question was dumb) was Colgate toothpaste, a commitment to exercise, “great” wives and love for their children. Over the years, their bond grew intense, based on personal chemistry as well as a fierce belief in the rightness of the 2003 Iraq invasion and the decision to remain there. This belief was tested, and tested again, by the unrelenting violence that has gripped Iraq and inspired growing doubts among their countrymen. This was underscored when the sounds of a clutch of anti-war protesters drifted through the Rose Garden on Thursday. Both men now are grayer and more lined from the stress. Largely because of the war, Bush saw his Republican Party lose stewardship of Congress in November. And Blair is believed to be leaving his post earlier than he would have otherwise. But their positions remain the same. “We took a decision that we thought was very difficult,” Blair said. “I thought then, and I think now, it was the right decision.” The alliance sometimes seemed all upside for Bush and mostly downside for Blair. Bush was asked if he was responsible for Blair’s political downfall. “Could be,” he said candidly. But, the president added: “I have enjoyed working with Tony Blair more than I could have possibly imagined.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The British prime minister has been a presence in Bush’s presidency like no other leader. Telephone conversations were regular. This White House meeting spanning two days was their 13th get-together in Washington since Bush took office in 2001. It was their 30th overall as leaders, including four in the sought-after atmospheres of Camp David or Bush’s Texas ranch. It wasn’t even their last; that will come early next month at a gathering of major industrialized countries in Germany. Still, as a farewell of sorts, it was more a sentimental than substantive summit. Reflecting their close ties, Blair was offered at the last minute – and accepted – a White House sleepover, choosing the Queen’s Bedroom down the hall from the president over the coincidentally named Blair House across the street, the traditional quarters for visiting leaders. WASHINGTON – To the last, neither George Bush nor Tony Blair wavered. The British prime minister allowed not a single regret about the war alliance that cost him his popularity and perhaps his job. The U.S. president, losing his best friend on the world stage, bristled at suggestions that Blair should already be out the door. “Trying to do a tap dance on his political grave, aren’t you?” Bush said Thursday at Blair’s side in the White House Rose Garden, admonishing British reporters looking beyond Blair’s tenure six weeks before he leaves office. “You don’t understand how effective Blair is, I guess.” Bush’s reluctance to see the British leader go is understandable. For Bush, Blair has been a steadfast friend for over six years, an articulate and impassioned defender of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. last_img read more