Magazine article New African

The Mission to Feed Liberia: Ambassador Wendell McIntosh, Crusader for Peace and Equity for All Liberians, Founded the Foundation for African Development Aid (ADA) in 1990. He Has since Not Rested. His Goal Is to Achieve Food Security for the Country as a Necessary Part of the Peace Process. Supplement by Jarlawah Tonpo

Magazine article New African

The Mission to Feed Liberia: Ambassador Wendell McIntosh, Crusader for Peace and Equity for All Liberians, Founded the Foundation for African Development Aid (ADA) in 1990. He Has since Not Rested. His Goal Is to Achieve Food Security for the Country as a Necessary Part of the Peace Process. Supplement by Jarlawah Tonpo

Article excerpt

Wendell McIntosh, Liberia's ambassador at large, resident in The Netherlands, began this journey because of his concern for the sorry plight of Liberian refugees in Guinea. He started by raising funds to provide food and other provisions for the refugees. He then established agricultural projects to assist them by supplying the tools, seeds, and expert supervision.

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When former President Charles Taylor moved his forces into Guinea, the Liberian refugees fled to Cote d'Ivoire. McIntosh joined them there and established the same type of programme, but soon Taylor's forces moved into Cote d'Ivoire and scuppered McIntosh's efforts.

But he was not daunted despite the heinous crimes perpetrated against Liberian citizens by the various warring factions. McIntosh never lost sight of the fact that thousands of young men and women were abducted into the war as soldiers and sex slaves against their will.

Others were drawn into the fighting forces simply because there was no food to eat. Even though food was provided by the warring factions, it was laced with hard drugs along with an abundance of liquor and cigarettes which gave the young boys and girls a false sense of courage, so they would follow the orders of their leaders.

Two-thirds of Liberians are under 29 years of age, with little hope for the future. Ambassador McIntosh has taken time to talk with and encourage these young women and men (former fighters) to think and act right. Many of these people are illiterate with no skills or access to markets and capital. McIntosh firmly believes that there will never be peace in Liberia unless these ex-combatants are rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.

On many occasions over the years, he had reprimanded many a young man for being dirty or disrespectful, and so it was difficult for him to accept the demoralisation of the Liberian people. For years, he lamented and prayed over the death of his father who was murdered during one of the many coups in the country, and the continual killing and maiming of innocent Liberians.

In 2003, when the Peace Accord was signed and UN forces (UNMIL) moved into the country, Ambassador McIntosh knew his dream was coming to fruition. He knew that without food security, the peace process could not be complete.

Not surprisingly, McIntosh's Foundation for African Development Aid (ADA) became the first Liberian NGO to approach Charles Achodo, the policy adviser of the UNDP's disarmament, demobilisation, rehabilitation and reintegration programme (DDRR), with a skills training project proposal for year-round rice and vegetable production.

McIntosh was relentless in his efforts to obtain a contract to begin operations in 2003. But it was almost impossible competing with international NGOs moving in from Sierra Leone, etc.

But McIntosh would not give up. In 2004, he used his own money to rent a house next to the Chinese embassy in Tubman Boulevard in Congo Town, Monrovia, establishing his office.

Ex-combatants were employed to assist in the renovation process and as security personnel. A small staff of highly qualified people, including Steve Stubblefield who took the position as ADA's country field director for the Agriculture Department, was employed. Nick and Pat Wolfe, international consultants, also came from Abuja, Nigeria, in November 2003, and joined the ADA team in 2004. In August of that year, Ambassador McIntosh signed his first contract with the UNDP to train 1,000 ex-combatants in year-round rice and vegetable production at three sites in Margibi and Montserrado counties (specifically at Cotton Tree, Duport Road, and Kakata).

McIntosh immediately sprang into action, printing T-shirts, purchasing tools, seeds and equipment, as leases were negotiated with landowners at the three sites. The programme was officially launched on 25 September 2004 at an impressive ceremony at the Paynesville City Hall in Monrovia. …

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