HIV/AIDS awareness takes center stage amongst Liberians in Minnesota


The Brooklyn United Methodist Church, also called BUMC, launches a massive HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in Minnesota. “The project is in response to efforts aimed at fighting against the further spread of HIV/AIDS, especially in minority communities”, said Richmond Tobii, Coordinator of the project.

BUMC’s efforts are expected to cover volunteer training workshops, resource sharing, screening of inspiring and educational HIV documentary clips, distribution of fact sheets, ethnic-centered publicity blitz, amongst several other outreach activities.

Mr. Tobii said the group intends to conduct “these culturally-sensitive activities” through special events, musical concerts, sports tournaments, and a host of other appealing means.

An impressive list of faith-based, grass root, community, and social organizations has committed to ensuring the success of the project. “BUMC is certainly suited to coordinate this project, because it has built and maintained the relationships needed to generate a wider community participation”, said a prominent Liberian church leader.

The three-month long project, which runs from June to August of 2008, is also designed as a community-centered initiative, allowing for individuals and groups in Minnesota’s West African community to participate in the design and implementation of the programs.

The Project is named and titled “LIFT”, Liberian initiative for Transformation, noted Mr. Tobii, in an exclusive interview with The Liberian Journal over the weekend.

“We intend to work as hard as we possibly can to make sure that we create awareness about how HIV/AIDS is transmitted, involve multi-ethnic volunteers as role models and facilitators, and increase family involvement in this age-appropriate process”, Mr. Tobii revealed, during a weekend soccer tournament, where participating teams wore LIFT’s HIV/AIDS campaign T-shirts to demonstrate their support for the project.

In a related development, BUMC organized a volunteer training workshop on Saturday June 15, 2008, in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota The workshop, which brought together about 20 volunteers, was the first in a series of events planned to kick off the project.

The workshop highlighted testing, faithfulness in relationship, and using latex condom as ways to prevent the spread of HIV. Mr. Wynfred Russell, who facilitated the training workshop, said HIV testing is available at a number of clinics and hospitals. Studies, he continued, have shown that people who know their HIV status are more likely to protect themselves and others from infection.

“HIV in our community is being largely driven by men who, for the most part, are exposing their female partners to the disease. Of course, this risky behavior is not limited to men; there are a number of women that indulge in playing the field. But, men are in the forefront of this dangerous practice,” said Mr. Russell, a community leader who has written extensively about HIV in the African immigrant community.

According to a recent report, minority groups in Minnesota account for 49% of all reported HIV/AIDS cases, although they represent less than 10% of the overall state’s population.

Editor’s note: Mr. Richmond Tobii, Project Manager of the Awareness Campaign, can be reached at 651-796-8636 and at or Please also check out The Liberian Journal ( for updated information on the project.