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GroundUp Global began as a partnership between Liberian refugee and social worker, Keith Kortu, and motivated New York University students. Our work centers on the Buduburam Refugee Camp in Ghana, West Africa, where 25,000 Liberian refugees are without basic necessities such as daily meals and potable water. We acknowledged from the start that, as born and raised New Yorkers, it was not our place to designate problems within the community or prescribe solutions. Instead we listened to Keith and learned from the incredibly generous and intelligent people we met on the camp. When Keith ultimately asked us to partner with him on his initiative, SCHEFO, we agreed: the thought of returning to life in New York and allowing all we had learned to slip into nostalgia was unimaginable. Since then we have worked to mobilize capital and raise awareness of the refugees' struggle, partnering on a number of innovative projects including The Buduburam Kitchen Project, Clean Up Campaign, Workshop series, Buduburam Internships, and BUDU fair trade fashion.
On February 7, 2012, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees announced that in five months all Liberian refugees will lose their status. If they do not repatriate or gain residence permits, they become persons without rights. The UN only offers limited repatriation assistance to refugees who have a UN-issued ID card. About half the population on Buduburam is without any form of identification. There is currently no UN effort to register the roughly 12,000 people who will be left without a network, without options, and without rights come June 30, 2012. As a result of this development, GroundUp has radically shifted our focus to facilitating holistic repatriation for the undocumented Liberians.
GroundUp global is addressing this in two ways, first by building a support network of companies, organizations, and individuals who can help facilitate reintegration. Second by constructing a transition space on the border of Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire where incoming refugees can sleep, eat, and find opportunities through our network.
Ground Up Global is a registered non-governmental, non-profit organization that does not discriminate based on gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, or otherwise.