Jacob D. Massaquoi II

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Jacob Massaquoi "is a human rights advocate and one of the founders of African Refuge on Staten Island. A community based project of the International Trauma Studies Program that works to address the needs of African immigrants. The African Refuge is an organization deeply close to Jacob’s heart. It represents a new life for Jacob and many other Liberians who endured war, torture and forced migration.

"In 1989, after graduating from high school, the Liberian Civil War broke out in Jacob’s hometown of Butuo in Nimba County. Jacob blames former Liberian president Charles Taylor for instituting a "policy of terror" that only redirected the brutality enacted under his predecessor, Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe. Jacob believes that Taylor preyed on oppressed Liberians who were angered by the promises made by Doe’s government. Taylor transformed thousands of people into killing machines overnight.

"Doe's armies and Taylor's forces both carried out policies of ethnic cleansing. Persecuting the Mano and Gio tribes and Taylor targeting the Krahn and Mandingo tribes, along with killing everyone from government employees to security guards. Jacob can count nine near death escapes. He actually lost several inches of his right leg. Having endured endless torture and witnessing the atrocities beyond human imagination.

"On Jacob's 19th birthday, he witnessed rebels us gunfire to take over the Monovorian district where he was staying. Although, he recognized several of the rebels as former classmates, he would have been killed if had he spoken out. But Joseph did begin to speak out...

"Prior to being forced out of his native country Liberia, Jacob served as the Country Representative of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE)-Liberia. Jacob was responsible for the coordination of activities surrounding the United Nation’s International Year of Volunteers.

"Jacob co-founded Free Teens Liberia, Inc. a non-profit volunteer organization with the mission to promote human rights and alleviate the plight of disadvantaged children and orphans, combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy as well as the incident of drugs and substance abuse among teenagers.

"Since the founding of African Refuge in 2003, the organization has been committed to providing projects and services that promote the resilience, mental health and social integration of individuals and families that have endured war, torture, terrorism and forced migration from Liberia." [1]

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  1. Jacob D. Massaquoi, II of African Refugee, Passion Life, accessed May 25, 2009.