For decades Liberia has looked for oil. In February, the war-torn nation struck black gold. The discovery is bringing hope to Liberians here in Minnesota.
"I have not seen my mom in a couple of years before the [civil] war," said Pam Ayitey, who moved to Minnesota in 1992. "It's pretty tough being away from your loved ones for all these years."
Ayitey is now co–owner of Hairitage Creations in Brooklyn Park. She uses some of her earnings to help her loved ones in Africa. This year alone she's wired over $2,000.
That money is badly needed. Up to 80 percent of Liberians are unemployed and a majority of them live without basic necessities like water and electricity. Ayitey is hoping the discovery of oil will bring opportunity for her family and the rest of the country.
"If this all works out, there's more jobs for people so that way it can put some less strain on us."
Local Liberian advocates say once the oil goes into production, we could start seeing more money pumped back into Minnesota's economy.
"We are sending a lot of money to Liberia, we will be able to keep some of that money and use it for ourselves," said Wayne Doe, executive director of the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota.
About 3,000 Liberians live in Brooklyn Park. Many have built a better life here in Minnesota, but are now encouraged their family members can do the same thing in Africa.
"You know, have the same dream of working and saving money and starting their own business," said Ayitey.
It could be years before oil is produced in Liberia. Meantime, the National Oil Company of Liberia is meeting with Liberian natives this Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Brooklyn Park Community Activity Center.
Sonya Goins, reporting
Wednesday, August 15, 2012