Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Law Won!

We have spent the better part of two months trying to figure out how best to approach the process of drawing Robertsport Community Works to the attention of all the relevant ministries and official bodies of Liberia, whose protocols will determine what paperwork we must prepare and at what cost. We visited law offices, spoke with employees at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, talked with recently-registered small-scale NGOs and emerged, from all this reconnaissance, with a somewhat muddled notion of what we had to do and the mounting conviction that we might as well just do it ourselves, at least to get started.

Thankfully, we refrained, at the last minute, from submitting our Articles of Incorporation for informal re-editing by a ministry official and instead, enjoyed the most inspiring, re-affirming and useful meeting of the organization's existence.

As, I sat across from Alfred Brownell, lead attorney of the Green Advocates (Liberia's only law firm devoted to the support and preservation of the country's ecology), explaining the aspirations of Robertsport Community Works, Mr. Brownell fixed me with a more and more disconcerting smile.

"Nobody told you where I'm from?" Elie and I shook our heads. "I'm from Robertsport, from the same community you are talking about!"

The conversation only improved from this unlikely revelation. Mr Brownell traces his roots to the small community of "uptown," the hillside community on the outskirts of Robertsport, nearest to most picturesque beaches and the highest quality surfing. He speaks passionately about natural features and resources of his hometown and affectionately about the families we are already working with.

We now have a partner in our venture, someone deeply respected and admired within the uptown community and someone with all of the experience and qualifications to help us through our incorporation. Not too far into our conversation, Mr. Brownell volunteered to register our NGO. He took the draft of our Articles and said that he would personally ensure that we were registered properly with no fee for his legal services--a valuable and timely contribution.

We look forward to meeting with his friends and family in Robertsport, to collaborating with him in the coming years and to doing what we can to support the aims of the Green Advocates.

Best business meeting ever!

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