The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA), has made a huge donation of food and non-food items valued at nearly US$3,000 to the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) as part of the Diaspora based organization’s effort to help empower local journalists who are also serving as frontliners in the battle against the ravaging COVI-19 pandemic.
ALJA, through its representative in Liberia, Malcolm Joseph, made the donation on Friday, May 15, 2020, at the PUL Headquarters in central Monrovia. Items donated include one hundred and fifty bags of rice, sixty-four gallons of oil, and one thousand five hundred face masks.
Mr. Joseph said that the donation is ALJA’s own way of identifying with media practitioners who are at the forefront during this pandemic in Liberia.
“ALJA, under the leadership of Joe S. Mayson, has asked me to make this donation to the Liberian media community through the PUL. Mr. Mayson also asked me to convey to you his organization’s unwavering support to the PUL and journalist across the country,” he said.
Joseph termed the donation as an initial one from the ALJA’s leadership. “Mayson said that as God continues to bless them, he and his colleagues— they will be able to identify with you all back home.”
“Journalists are also playing a very critical role in this crisis by constantly informing our people that they should not be forgotten. They too have to be empowered in order to be more vigilant against the virus,” he said.
A lot of donations are being made by national and international bodies to the government, healthcare workers and others, but the media, being a critical component, is yet to be considered, as the ALJA’s donation is the most significant so far to media practitioners.
In recent times a group of journalists covering the HIV/AIDS Control Program received a few items from their donors and the Reporters Association of Liberia also distributed bottles of alcohol among its members and some government institution.
At the level where materials and food items are donated to institutions to fight an epidemic as it was with the Ebola in 2014 or the prevailing pandemic, journalists remain out of the humanitarian gesture as many of them go without even a monthly salary.
“It is against this backdrop that ALJA thought there is a need to intervene and help the media in whatever little way it can. They are contributing significantly and so they should not be overlooked,” an executive of ALJA told the Daily Observer in a social media conversation.
In a brief remark after receiving the donation, PUL President Charles Coffey lauded the group its leadership for the initiative and its farsightedness.
Coffey said that ALJA has always stood with the PUL, especially during challenging times and has always complimented the union’s efforts.
“This donation is timely. Many of our members are in the full frontline in the fight against COVID-19, and this will help to motivate them,” said Mr. Coffey.
“Our journalists are doing very well during this crisis and they need to be supported. This is a very good way of motivating them and we want to appreciate our colleagues who have made this possible,” he added.
He also called on eminent journalists and other well-meaning Liberians to emulate ALJA’s example.
Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL) President, Siatta Scott-Johnson in a brief statement, said that the donation would not have come at a better time as association is preparing to engage its members across the country. “We were at the verge of procuring some sanitary materials to take with us on our trips to our members in the counties. So this has come at the right time as it will help ease some of the financial burdens on us,” she said.
RAL Secretary-General, Mark Mengonfia, lauded ALJA for the gesture. “The reporters are the ones that are at the frontline and recognizing their efforts through this donation is a great move. We want to thank them for thinking about the journalists back home,” he said.
ALJA had earlier said in a press statement that while it remains deeply appreciative of the sacrifices of health care workers, including doctors and nurses in the fight against Covid-19, it recognizes that journalists themselves are in the frontline and the donation is meant to highlight the enormous sacrifices they continue to make in educating and informing the public as part of the national pandemic response.
Mr. Mason commended the President of the PUL, Mr. Charles Coffey and Mr. Joseph, for facilitating the donations.
Mr. Mason also lauded the ALJA Covid-19 Committee headed by the Association’s National Vice President, Mr. Pewee Baysah, for helping to coordinate the organization’s pandemic response. Other members of the committee include Kadiatu Konteh Brohiri, Menekeh Pshorr Giddings, and Moses Wenyou.
The ALJA President also acknowledged the membership as well as friends and partners of ALJA, who made voluntary contributions expressing their solidarity with their compatriots.
At a well-attended teleconference held on Sunday, April 19, 2020, the Association’s membership resolved to voluntarily contribute financial resources to the Covid-19 fight in a collective effort to beat back the spread of the virus in Liberia.
Beneficiaries of the ALJA’s COVID-19 package include auxiliaries of the PUL including the Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL), the Broadcasters Association of Liberia (BAL), the Association of Liberia Community Radios (ALICOR), and the Reporters Association of Liberia (RAL) among others.