Ailesbury in Liberia
2012 Dr Patrick Treacy speech opening Everland Liberia
"Friends and Government Dignitaries,
We have started a new century, a new millennium. The first ten years have been some of the most brutal the planet has ever encountered. The century started with terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and Liberia underwent its second civil war. Liberia was to oust a leadership that had made this country internationally known as a pariah state.
These actions dragged this great nation into other conflicts in Sierra Leone,left 250,000 people dead and devastated this nation’s economy. These wars cast a dark shadow over humanity. Today, Liberia is recovering from the lingering effects of the civil wars and their consequent economic upheaval, but about 85% of the population continue to live below the intenretional poverty line. So much violence, so much bloodshed, so much agony to children - but the watching world will not stand back and remain indifferent.
Seventy years ago, World War 2 ended, Liberia had joined the Allies and helped rid the world of the evils of Nazism. Liberia was a founding member of the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity. It stood up for the destitute, for the victims of disease and injustice. And then it entered a dark period from which it is now slowly emerging. It is fitting that we are all here today to remember the legacy of Michael Jackson, someone I am privileged to call my friend, somebody who often stood alone to fend for the children in the world. Michael was very troubled by the suffering in this continent and in fact his first words to me when we met were ‘Thank you so much for helping the people of Africa’.
I had been to Africa and seen the devastation of the plague of HIV first hand and when we discussed it, there were tears in his eyes and he said we had to do something together for the people of Africa. He planned to hold a great concert in an abandoned airfield in Rwanda and we would fly there together in his private plane and then down to see his great friend, Nelson Mandela. Sadly, these events were not to happen and the world lost one of its great humanitarians.
Michael Jackson brought light where there was darkness, hope where there was despair; he never turned away from cruelty when he could give compassion. Following the 1984 Victory Tour, Michael donated his $5 million share from the tour’s profits to charity. In 1985, he co-wrote the single “We Are the World” with Lionel Richie and donated all of the proceeds to help the needy in Africa. Almost 20 million copies of “We Are the World” were sold, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time. The project raised millions for famine relief.
Michael Jackson felt the pain of the hungry children of Africa who were walking for miles with swollen bellies, dying without dignity in the night as the rest of the world emptied its supermarket food waste into the bins of New York, London and Dublin. He knew and felt deeply about a continent ravaged by civil war and pestilence, where children in this city were forced to hack off the limbs of their parents and eat the beating hearts of other humans. None of these children asked to become involved in an adult war, where man’s inhumanity to each other is only outdone by the evil that lies within their hearts. There are times when we all feel that God has abandoned this world; the terrible earthquake in Haiti, the bloody streets of Northern Ireland, and when, at evening time when shadows fall over the coffin makers in Nairobi, another HIV infected child is put back into the earth from which they were born. Well, I say to you here today that there is a God who looks down on all of this wrong and he brought us an angel in the form of Michael Jackson to help solve it.
This building is a testament to the Humanitarian legacy of Michael Jackson, built through MJL by his wonderful fans throughout the world, and it will be remembered by generations as yet unborn. This is a story of regeneration of the human spirit here in the heart of Africa, a part of the world that was very dear to the great singer. Let’s be grateful to God that He sent such a person to live amongst us for a while and leave us this wonderful legacy. We cannot be indifferent to the wrongs in this world that we see around us. Already, MJL is making plans to open another Everland in Haiti, where hundreds of thousands of people sleep under plastic sheets at night and, as in Monrovia, have to suffer some of the worst rains on this planet.
I see the kids in the street with not enough to eat Who am I to be blind, pretending not to see their needs? They follow each other on the wind ya know? ‘Cause they got nowhere to go...
Well now they have somewhere to go - it’s here. It’s called Everland Children’s Home Liberia."
ABOVE: Dr Treacy meets Reverend Dekontee, overseer of the Everland project in Monrovia, Liberia.