A sister city partnership is in the works between Brooklyn Center and Voinjama, Liberia, which is located in the northern part of the country near the Guinean border.
The mayor of Voinjama, Younger Sherman, and the deputy minister of urban affairs, Florence Geebae Dukuly, visited with Brooklyn Center city staff and the city council Dec. 3 to discuss the partnership. The city council unanimously approved a resolution for the partnership at its Dec. 10 meeting.
Just a few months ago Liberian Vice President Joseph N. Boakai was hosted at a round table discussion in Brooklyn Center to start the sister city process.
The partnership would benefit the cities, education, business, municipal leadership, development and trade, Dukuly said during the meeting last week.
“At the moment, Liberia is going through a transition to decentralize governments and organize administrative structures,” Dukuly said.
During his September visit, Boakai said the wars and chaos in Liberia are the cause of the country needing to rebuild infrastructure and skills of its residents.
“The resolution does establish a sister city relationship and it provides for a number of opportunities to mutually share the benefits of this relationship,” said City Manager Curt Boganey.
According to Boganey, the cities could work together to help solve problems by sharing their cultural, leadership, educational and development knowledge and skills.
“At least my understanding of sister city relationships (is) they can be as broad or as minimal as the entities want them to be,” Boganey said. “I think we can hopefully agree in terms of what we would like to see happen.”
The Brooklyn Center city staff and elected officials would also have the opportunity to visit Voinjama with the sister-city partnership.
Staff of the Brooklyn Center Police Department is already considering a visit to provide training in law enforcement and public safety and donate uniforms to the city.
In addition to the representatives from Voinjama at the Dec. 3 meeting, the Rev. Alexander Collins addressed the city council about the benefits of a sister city partnership.
Collins lives in Brooklyn Park and is the lead pastor at Redeemed Life Ministries International in Mounds View.
Collins, who is the acting board chairman of the Liberian Ministers Association in Minnesota, has worked with Brooklyn Park on its sister city partnership with Kakata in Liberia and in raising money to send fire safety equipment there.
Members of the city council asked Collins about the funding and cost of the sister city partnership.
“We really want a mutually beneficial relationship,” Collins said. “We don’t expect taxpayers’ dollars to be spent … it is not our anticipation to spend city money,” he said.
Overall, the city council and staff said they are interested in the partnership and the opportunity to visit Liberia.
“I think entering into (a) sister city agreement holds a lot of promise,” said Councilmember Lin Myszkowski. “But I am looking for a little bit of predictability of what we can expect. It would be important to know what the expectations are.
“In Brooklyn Center we have benefited from all our Liberian communities … I think it’s time that we go to the world,” Myszkowski said. “I am not advocating spending any taxpayer dollars, but it is time we reach out,” she said.