CrossTraining is pleased to finally share the Timothy Project: Liberia 2015 Final Update with our supporters. The project which began last year, finally came to completion in September. Difficulties with raising the funds and then corruption in country meant for a difficult journey for Thomas and Jamie Fahn and their Liberian Institute for Empowerment (L.I.F.E.). Here, we share the final update on the container and its final arrival. CrossTraining’s commitment was over 800 pieces of soccer equipment including Colorado Rapids jerseys, cones, training vests, backpacks, and cleats.
As we continued with the process of getting our container out of the port, we began to realize how desperate and corrupt most of the brokers at the port are. Every broker you talk to at the port is enthusiastically ready to work for you. Unfortunately, their main goal is to exploit you, especially if they noticed you are new to the system. As we mentioned previously, when you begin a process of clearing a container from the Free Port of Monrovia, “not only will you fight with government extortionists, you will also be fighting your own broker—the person you are relying on to go to almost 30 offices to obtain the proper paperwork to clear your container.”
Normally, container owners are not allowed in the port. The brokers’ association managed to work out a deal with the port management to keep container owners out of the port by all means. This simply means that you are at their mercies once you hire them. You must pay all charges they put before you if you really want to get your container out. Unfortunately, most of those ridiculous charges are made-up fees. But guess what? You will not be given a receipt for your payments. All the brokers at the port work together and protect one another in their dubious schemes.
That was exactly the case with us but we depended on God, and He truly provided a way through it all. Thomas managed to establish a good relationship with most of the port securities officials including our new friend, “Giant.” Thomas quickly gained popularity at every entrance at the port and he was allowed in every time he was at any of the gates. He was also able to build relationship with some of the key staff that made important decisions at the port. He visited the port for two and a half weeks; Monday through Saturday, from 8:00am to 4:00pm trying to get our container out. In fact people thought he was employed at the port.
Thomas’ ability to gain entrance at the port frustrated our broker. He was upset and frustrated because Thomas was uncovering most of his schemes. Thomas closely followed him to every office he went and made payments himself. Our broker finally gave-up and became good friends with Thomas.
During one of their down time at the port, Thomas had a very interesting conversation with him and a few of his co-workers about being ethical in business. Surprisingly, more than ten of the brokers came around and listened to Thomas’ lecture. There was dead silence in the room filled with brokers. After the lecture, some of them responded and explained about the extreme hardship they are enduring due to the lack of employment. They concluded that the economic hardship is a driving force behind their unethical business practices. They strongly believe that if they had opportunities to sustain themselves and their families, they will do better than what they are doing now.
After all the ups and downs at the port, the container finally came out on the 12th of September. Knowing the difficulties Thomas was going to encounter going through the police check points, the broker offered to follow him. The broker assisted him in getting through the checkpoints since our vehicles from the container were not yet registered. Normally, brokers will not do that because that’s another deal they have with the police for unregistered cars coming out of the port. But he saved us from the police with his presence in the front seat of our truck. Every police officer we encountered along the way knew him by name. He came all the way to our house and stayed with us until we unloaded the goods and cars.
What have we learned? God cares about Liberia and the people of Liberia. According to the World Bank, Liberia is the fifth poorest country in the world per capita. As such, many people have set their ethics to the side to feed their families. Thus we need to help create businesses that will create jobs. And help people gain a better understanding of God’s values and gain a renewing relationship and willingness to do the right thing even in the midst of adversity. We will be working on both those fronts. And we are excited and impassioned!
When you make a financial contribution to CrossTraining you help support projects like this one. We steward a percent of our donations to help with Timothy Projects – you can also note Timothy Project if you would like to give toward a specific project. Please use the Donate Now link to make a secure PayPal donation.