Bruce Donoho at the Liberian Children’s Village and Orphanage.
Safia, an orphan girl living at a shelter that was due to close. Unfortunately, there are many orphans in Sierra Leone and Liberia, countries that have been ravaged by war.
PCT: Did your recent trip to Liberia meet your expectations?
Bruce Donoho: I approached my journey to Banta Mokelleh/ Sierra Leone as a chance to gain “hands on” and “in person” knowledge of the organization Children of the Nations (C.O.T.N.). My wife has been sponsoring a child at the C.O.T.N. children’s village for three years. His name is Alfred, and his picture hangs in our home. I wanted to meet Alfred and validate the integrity of C.O.T.N. Additionally, Chris Clark, founder of C.O.T.N., and I traveled to the neighboring country of Liberia to evaluate the need of opening up an orphanage/C.O.T.N. facility there. Children of the Nations is for real! They are saving the lives of thousands of children by offering medical aid, nutrition, safety and education.These children are being transformed into future leaders and productive members of the future Sierra Leone. I have never seen an organization more steeped in integrity than C.O.T.N. I met our sponsored child, Alfred. His father was killed in the war, and his mother left him in November. He is being raised in a village 5 miles from the C.O.T.N. facility. He walks 10 miles per day through the jungle to school. One day I joined him on his journey home to visit his village and his family. It was quite a hike — fulfilling and affirming in many ways. We traveled to the neighboring country of Liberia where the effects of a long and savage civil war are still evident. Much of the infrastructure of the country was destroyed, and as in Sierra Leone, the unemployment rate is over 80%. There is a great need in Liberia for what C.O.T.N. has to offer.
PCT: What were the major accomplishments of your delegation?
BD: We have sponsored and funded a group of prominent and trustworthy people in Liberia to perform and complete a feasibility study — basically to work with the government to start an orphanage / children’s village in Liberia.
PCT: How do you plan to maintain your ties with the children of Liberia?
BD: Through Children of The Nations we will continue to work towards “realizing the dream” in Liberia. I am also personally in contact with the feasibility task force on the ground there and, of course, Chris Clark, the founder of C.O.T.N.
PCT: How can your colleagues in the pest management industry help it they are interested?
BD: Many of our friends in the pest control industry have gone onto the C.O.T.N. website (www.cotni.org) and sponsored children (orphans) in Sierra Leone. This is so good for all involved. As for Liberia, we will let everyone know how to contribute once we have an ongoing facility there.
PCT: How were you personally impacted by your experiences in Liberia?
BD: I spent time as a young boy growing up in Liberia. Because of the war, the country is in worse shape than when I lived there. Extreme poverty, ignorance, malnutrition and disease are prevalent. However, even with all these hardships, the spirit of the people is strong. You saw a similar situation in Haiti. I was amazed at how spiritually rich these people are. I often thought of the many people here in Orange County, Calif., that are financially rich…but spiritually poor. The questions kept hitting me: “Who are the rich, and who are the poor?”
PCT: Do you plan to return to Liberia at some point? If so, when?
BD: Yes, when the feasibility study is completed and C.O.T.N. determines “the next phase,” then I will return.
PCT: What was the most surprising element of the trip?
BD: I didn’t think the plight of the people would be as bad as it was. Anyone who is familiar with our team at Bird-B-Gone knows that they are so strong in so many ways. They didn’t miss a beat…This was their mission too!
PCT: How did your staff at Bird-B-Gone respond to the challenge of you being gone for an extended period of time?
BD: I have a picture presentation on my laptop which I shared with them. When visiting orphanages, we would often be serenaded with beautiful songs from the children. I would use my Blackberry to record the music – then play it back over the phone for our Bird-B-Gone team. It was quite moving.
PCT: How did your trip tie into your corporate mission statement of “Faith, Family and Friends?”
BD: Our corporate motto is: “It’s more than just bird control products, it’s Faith, Family and Friends”. Well, believe it or not, we live by this. And we believe that Faith without “deeds” is dead. So we are stretching and growing in directions that help people in need. It is a good place to be.