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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 July, 2003, 21:51 GMT 22:51 UK
Tense wait for NY Liberians
by Jane Standley
BBC correspondent in New York

Liberians in Staten Island
Freed American slaves settled in Liberia and ties are strong

It's a home away from home - the Roza centre for Liberian refugees in Staten Island.

Here, the land left behind is cherished and never to be forgotten. The hope is always to return.

Community leaders help the victims of war cope with their exile.

"Some of them talk about the abuse they've received, the torture they have gone through," said Rufus Arkoi.

"Some of them come with scars, show you the marks on their body, the pain they've gone through."

In this small corner of Staten Island, the crisis in Liberia is never far from people's minds.

Four thousand Liberians live in a tight knit community and they are worried to death about their families back home.

Liberia was settled by freed American slaves and the historical ties are strong.

Even at the taxi stand, the question is "when will America go and help".

Cherished relationship

Sam Knowlden's wife and children are in Monrovia.

"Send in troops, send in troops, and you will see the Liberian people love you," he said.

"Liberian people will always cherish the relationship that exists between Liberia and the United States."

Bishop William Dixon
Last time America did not help. I am pretty sure this time [President Bush] is going to do something
Bishop William Dixon
Staten Island's Liberian market women sing for an end to the killing in their country.

They may have found temporary refuge here but it is a struggle to keep the exiled spirit alive.

While Liberians here wait and hope for change back home, the community is trying to maintain its identity and keep its traditions alive.

Many people want to return home - they just do not know when or if that may be possible.

Florence Kingsley-Mumulu hopes she can return soon, even though America is close to her heart.

"It was America who sent teachers to my country - we learned from American books, it was America who has rescued me when I was shot in the war," she said.

"Though I've been treated well in America - there's not a day I don't think of home."

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