This Spring Break, Liberian pastor Lawrence E Kennedy of Bethel Outreach Ministries in Norcross, Georgia planned a trip to the Liberian Consulate Office with a group of Liberian youths. Spring Break often involves trips to the beach or vacations to places where large bodies of cool water are present, but Pastor Kennedy had a different idea. He organized a small group of Liberian children and a Liberian teacher to take a tour of the Liberian Consulate in Georgia. Cynthia Lynn Blandford, Honorary Consul General led the tour answering questions and delving out interesting facts about Liberia and its leaders.
“What does that key open,” one student asked while pointing to the large golden key sitting in a velvet box in the office corridor.
“It’s the key to the City of Savannah,” Honorary Consul General Cynthia Lynn Blandford answered as she explained how the key is a welcoming symbol that does not open any physical doors.
The key, which offers the Liberian government access to the Mayor and wonderful people of the beautiful city of Savannah, was presented to the Liberian Ambassador and the Honorary Consul on February 26, 2016, during a visit to Savannah, Georgia at the invitation of Senator Lester Jackson.
The Honorary Consul General showcased pictures of Liberia’s leaders and other artifacts in the office. As the group weaved through the space asking questions and receiving answers, they made their way back to the entrance where they posed for several pictures.
The Liberian consulate office is opened Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment only for visa and consular services.
Last October, Liberian Vice President Joseph N. Boakai made a trip to Atlanta organized by the Liberian Consulate office in Georgia. During his visit, the Vice President met and spoke with many organizations to discuss a series of topics concerning Liberia. The Liberian Association of Metro Atlanta (LAMA), Thompson Hine Law firm, the University of Georgia (UGA), Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta Air Lines, The Lofa Association of Georgia (LAG), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), The Carter Center, and Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) were among the organizations.
Vice President Boakai launched his three day visit with a town hall meeting and dinner hosted by LAMA, LAG, The Patriots for the Transformation of Liberia, and The Friends of Joseph N. Boakai, Sr. During this meeting he discussed topics of dual citizenship, his presidential campaign, the Ebola crisis and the local community center. The next morning, Vice President Boakai met with the Thompson Hine Law firm to engage in strategic business discussions. At the breakfast UGA International Programs Director Brian Watkins discussed plans for a program focused on women empowerment and poultry production. Both Watkins and Cynthia Blandford, Liberian Honorary Consul General in Georgia have been collaborating on the project with support from retired Clark Atlanta University president Dr. Kofi Bota and the President of the Ghana International Chamber of Commerce Matilda Arhin.
In addition to agriculture, infrastructure was discussed. Construction partners Omega Paving and HJ Russell and Company shared their ideas on roads and development in Liberia. After the Thompson Hine Law firm meeting, the Vice President had a Sister Airport Collaboration Agreement lunch meeting with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Hartsfield’s Senior Deputy General Manager Michael Smith and International Business Director Alrene Barr briefed the Vice President and his delegation about the Agreement, which focuses on training and capacity development, technical assistance, strengthening airport relationships, and sharing information.
Travel discussions spilled over into Vice President Boakai’s next meeting with Delta Air Lines where he and the Honorary Consul General discussed reinstating direct flights between Atlanta and Liberia with Peter Carter, Delta’s Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer. Day two concluded with The Lofa Association of Georgia discussing the urgent need to complete the Gbarnga – Mandecoma Highway Project, and the Potential Mining of Wologizi Mountain. The Patriots for Transformation Project wrapped up the evening with a fundraising dinner in honor of the Vice President. At the dinner, Duluth City Council Member Marsha Anderson Bomar presented a proclamation from Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris stating that October 18-21, 2015, was Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Sr., Day in the City of Duluth.
For his final day in Atlanta, Vice President Boakai shifted the conversation to focus on Liberia’s health and well-being. He engaged with the Centers for Disease Control, Carter Center, and Morehouse School of Medicine. The Vice President had a conference call with Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC; a program briefing at the Carter Center; and a discussion on post-Ebola recovery strategies and partnerships organized by the University Consortium for Liberia (UCL) with Morehouse School of Medicine. Over 60 guests, including MAP International, MedShare International, Morehouse School of Medicine faculty, the President and Chief of Staff of Savannah State University, Emory University School of Nursing, and the Liberian Nurses Association of Georgia attended the Morehouse School of Medicine meeting.
The Vice president could not leave Atlanta without showing appreciation to Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill and his Security Team for their service. Vice President Boakai’s eventful Atlanta visit left much anticipation for a progressive 2016. The Liberian Consulate office in Georgia continues to forge and maintain relationships that will benefit both Liberia and Atlanta in the coming years.