Lord Neil Benjamin
Lord Neil B. Gibson and West Africa
The plight of West Africa is something many of us are keenly familiar with—not necessary because we’ve surveyed it with our own eyes, but because we hear about it all the time on the news. In fact, we are so familiar with the situation in West Africa that we even know a lot of the celebrities and political figures who champion the cause—including everyone from Brad Pitt to Bono! But there’s one vitally important name that belongs on that list, and it’s one you may not have been familiar with before. You can probably guess that it’s none other than Lord Neil Gibson. Actually, Lord Neil Gibson served, from 1998 through 2000, as the Ambassador at Large to West Africa, and here he implemented a rather remarkable system for bringing relief items to those in need: It all started with a rather incredible stroke of genius—a partnership with Firestone Tire Company. Firestone owns a major rubber plantation in Liberia, and they ship rubber to the United States in large shipping containers. Lord Neil Gibson would round up those shipping containers when they made it to U.S. soil, and he would fill them up again—not with rubber, but with clothing, computer supplies, and other relief items desperately needed by the poorest of communities in West Africa. Then, Lord Neil Gibson would send them back, and the good folks at Firestone would ensure that the items were properly distributed. It was a great plan on many levels, and certainly one that helped a lot of people. More than anything, though, we note it here because it shows off one of the most pivotal character traits of Lord Neil Gibson—namely, his ability to ally himself with big companies and financial backers who could help him get his humanitarian works done. That’s what made him a great Ambassador at Large, and it’s what makes him a great humanitarian worker to this very day!