Thursday, March 24, 2011


It seems like every time I go to the camp (and even when I’m not on the camp) someone comes up to me and asks for assistance with education, with training, with housing, etc. etc. – and these days I usually tell them straightforward that there’s nothing I can do – I don’t want to offer false hope and I really don’t have the time to try for all. However, there have been 3 individuals for whom I know the stories and, more importantly. I’ve known them over the years, I’ve witnessed their seriousness and their dedication to others. It’s this selflessness I’ve seen in all three, this concern and compassion that each of them has shown that has pushed me to consider what I didn’t want to get involved with again when I came back to the coast 1½ years ago – finding supporters/sponsors to help them realize their dreams and move onto their goals. Last year I shared Benedict’s story, now I’m sharing the story of Thomas. I think that first I’ll start with his story as he wrote it, then I’ll add my experiences and thoughts about him after that:

the photo is of Thomas with Elizabeth (she's in a lot of photos of things I write about these days, it seems)

Thomas F. Mundu –

Dear Sir/Madam:
I left Liberia since 1996 April 6, after the brutal killing of my parents. My father served as judge under the late president Samuel K. Doe and he was killed by the Charles Taylor rebels. My mother and I felt into an ambush where she was killed and my aunt managed to escape with me into exile, Ghana. Unfortunately for me and my aunt, we were involved in a tragic motor accident on Nov.4, 2003 where my aunt died on the spot and my left leg broke three times and my right hand fractured.
Since then I have no one in Liberia. It was friends and pastors who took care of me during my stay in the hospital at the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital. After all the treatment, I encountered a snake bite in the bush where all refugees attend to nature.
It was only by the grace of God that I survived and I have no means of continuing my life to return to Liberia. I might be killed by those people who killed my father.
Some more details:

After I survived the tragic accident, I was sponsored by Sis.Johanna, a Dutch national, to study Ports and Shipping Management at Principal's College, Achimota, Accra (under Cambridge International College, UK) from where I obtained an Advanced Diploma.

Furthermore, I was trained by the Ghana Ports And Harbours Authority (GPHA) Golden Jubilee Terminal,(GJT), Tema Port for three months. As a result of the training, I was considered the first highest. After the training, I managed to purchase the Regional Maritime University Admission form to be sponsored by UN, but unfortunately for me, I was not accepted by both UN and the university.

After all these disappointments, I decided to go back home even though my parents were all killed during the war. Now going back home is a complete threat for me. Those who killed my father, who served as a judge under the late President Samuel K. Doe, are still in the government holding key positions.

My life now is being controlled by God through the assistance of friends. I have no source of income, nobody to even depend on if I should go back to Liberia. The issue of going to Liberia is mentioned out of frustration. Presently, I serve as a volunteer Secretary to the Harmony Disability Centre, an organization which I am a member of.

I still want a sponsor to further my studies at any other institution which will enable me to return home with head knowledge rather then none. Feeding is also one of the daily problem that I face.
God bless.
Respectfully Yours,

Thomas F. Mundu


I’ve known Thomas since the end of 2005 when Johanna (the Dutch SMA lay missionary he mentions in his letter) became involved with him and started to find ways to help him work towards a better future. I wasn’t too involved with him at that time – Johanna was helping him with the education he was receiving. I left the camp in 2007, and when I returned in October, 2009, I was surprised to find Thomas active with the Harmony Center. I hadn’t stayed in contact with him after I left the camp at the end of 2007, and I knew many people had returned to Liberia. To be honest - I never thought of him after that since I didn’t have a strong, direct connection with him during my time on the camp.

When I returned to the coast I was asked to be involved with the Harmony Center, an organization with which many of the people with disabilities on the camp are connected. A couple of SMA lay missionaries had been working with Harmony since I left the camp, and at the time I returned to the coast a year and a half ago, the French lay missionary who was working with Harmony was preparing to return to France, so I was asked to continue. When I first went to Harmony, I was surprised to find Thomas volunteering as secretary/general-office-help there.

I always had the impression that he was a gentle, kind, intelligent and simple-living person. So, I was happy to see that he’s been putting all those qualities into action by volunteering with Harmony. About a month after I became involved with Harmony, he came to me to talk about continuing his education. I did what I have done in the past and asked him to please write a little about himself and his goals and then allow me to share that information to help in the search for a sponsor. He prepared the two letters (which I combined into one) that are above. He also, in spite of his letter above stating that he wants to further his studies “at any other institution”, has completed them (thanks to previous donations I’ve received in the past 1½ years). At this time, though, to fully complete and receive his Bachelor’s degree for the studies he’s done, he needs to take a series of 3 exams. Each exam costs, $800 – with the first exam scheduled to take place in June. (Yowzers! Time is flying and I’ve delayed too long in sharing this story.) Upon successfully completing the exams he’ll have a Bsc (bachelor’s degree) in Shipping and Transport Management from Cambridge University in the UK. So, the first exam is in June, the next one in September, and the final one in December. What I’m hoping for at this time is help for Thomas to take that first exam in June. We’ll deal with the other ones afterwards. If anyone is able to contribute towards this first exam, it would be the usual procedure – please send a check or whatever to:

C/O Theresa Hicks
256 North Manor Circle
Takoma Park, MD 20912

Include a note for Theresa, saying that the donation is to be put towards Steve's work with Thomas.

I had never heard his full story before, but I knew that he struggled to live on the camp – he’s alone and, because of the accident, limps and is limited in some of his activities. I’ve been impressed by his dedication to work for the people with disabilities on the camp, in spite of having almost no compensation for the time and effort he’s putting into his role at Harmony. Because I’ve known him these years and have seen his struggles and his seriousness and dedication – even selflessness – in spite of these struggles, he’s one of 3 people, out of the many who have asked about education, to whom I’ve told I’ll give it a try and see what I can do. (So far, I’ve only tried with one of the other 2 – Benedict – but no success there, yet. I’m doing it step-by-step – there always seems so much to write about, so little time to write, and so much uncertainty about how best I should prioritize what/who I write about. I’ve known Benedict better and longer, so I started with him. Now, there’s a bit of a time crunch, and I’ve been working closely with Thomas for the past 1½ years (he’s also the one who helped me a lot with getting Blamasee ready for school), so, he’s the current priority).


At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Steve for your blog and the stories of people you are working with. It is really good.
God Bless you always!

At 4:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve, I believe Thomas should get the chance to complete his degree. I'm cutting back on my beer consumption to send a donation thru Theresa.
Stay healthy. JP


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