By JOHN VAN KLAVEREN
JOSEPH Brown is a remarkably happy bloke for someone who has survived two of the world’s bloodiest civil wars.
The Liberian refugee breaks out into huge smiles whenever he meets anyone new, something he has been doing a lot of since arriving to re-join his family in Geelong in 2009.
He managed to get his wife and four children out of Liberia in 2005 and is also looking after his late sister’s two children.
Both Liberian civil wars were particularly violent, the first killing more than 200,000 people and displacing a million others into refugee camps before ending in 1996.
The peace was short-lived, with a Second Liberian Civil War breaking out in 1999, killing another 250,000 and creating one million refugees.
Joseph worked with the United Nations reconstruction task force in Liberia following the second civil war, still encountering occasional pockets of rebel fighters.
He is working on a reconstruction project of a different kind these days, as new building projects across Norlane begin the urban renewal of the suburb.
Joseph says he is keen to be a part of building a new Norlane, just as he helped his country begin to emerge from its civil conflict.
Unique Homes has taken on the first of what it hopes will be a series of Norlane projects, according to director Charlie Camilleri.
“We took Joseph on as a commitment to employ locals as part of the regeneration of the area. We like to have an engagement with the local community when we are doing a project in an area,” Charlie said.
“Joseph is a leader in his community and he shows that same leadership and dedication on the job.”
Charlie said he had no hesitation in taking on Norlane projects.
“You can’t just rely on the perception of the area, you have to delve more deeply into the community and you’ll find ordinary people doing their best.”