Thursday, January 31, 2008

Million Book March

Today I witnessed a marvellous ceremony which took place at Aquilla School in Paynesville. Visions in Action is helping supply a million books to schools, libraries, and other areas to promot literacy. They are also training teachers how to use a library system so that the books are not just locked in a room as a valuable 'trophy' and not used by the kids! The children marched into the school joyously singing where there were speakers from USAID Liberia, Books for Africa, and Better World Books as well as members of the Liberian Ministry of Education. It was exciting to see all the smiling faces on the children. I met with the founder of Visions in Action who I am going to sit down with and talk about possibly volunteering with them as they continue to distribute the million books to the 15 counties around Liberia. I met Justin and Andy from Better World Books which is an online book seller like but they donate some of the proceeds to purchase books for children who need them. So if you are going to buy a book check them out at . Books for Africa is an organization that is aquiring books to ship them to Africa. There were instrumental in helping visions reach their goal of a million books. Today was a good day and reminded me what I have told counselors for years, that its all about the kids, and it is. I am excited to meet with visions in action and hope to start volunteering soon.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Firestone, Liberia

Today we travelled out to the Firestone Rubber plant today which is about an hour drive from Monrovia. It was neat to see the acres and acres of rubber trees with the bark pulled back to extract the rubber resembling the same technique of extracting maple syrup. Firestone creates a bunch of jobs, small villiages have sprung up around the plant and the employees of Firestone are generational since the early 1800s.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Not Aestheticly Pleasing

As I see day to day life here in Monrovia, I notice very few Liberians actually try to improve their surroundings. This disgusts me at first, and I start blaming them, thinking they are lazy or just worthless. I have to stop myself and think about how I would look at my world through a conflict as brutal as the one most here survived through. Think about living in a world where anything nice was destroyed becauseyou had something nice that a rebel fighter was jealous of so he either destroyed it or claimed it as his own. At all the checkpoints, Monrovians were shot at random for appearing fat or the least bit wealthy. If it looked nice, it stood out and was either stolen or destroyed, I think of what that does to a mindset and how that would affect how I make my environment look. I dont think I would live any different then. Its not that the people here arent smart, because they are, they are people, its the mindsets and the lack of education that has crippled them(in american ideals at least) I just have to remember that its not America and that things are different and I am accepting that and just taking it all in.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Africa Cup of Nations

After work today William and Thomas took me with them to go get thomas' car out of the shop, while we were there waiting on the final touches we went into a small room and watched a futbol match on a projector screen with about 100 liberians crammed into the room. the excitment was equivalent to going to a sports bar in a town when the local college team is playing a basketball game during march madness. However, Liberia did not even qualify into the Africa Cup of Nations tournament and the excitment was for camaroon!

Monday, January 21, 2008


Liberia is 80% Christian but the religiosity is apalling. here is an interesting article about how people use religion here in Liberia, I think it is a safety valve from the war, even some of the most bizarre and cruel killings were done with images of christian symbols, like the video of Prince Johnson killing then president Doe with a huge portrait of Jesus in the back ground then taking part in religious hyms. oh prince johnson is now an eleected legislator. this place is truely odd.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Its hot

Today was the clearest day yet in Liberia (locals pronouce it lie-beer-a) but it was still really hazy! But it was the hottest day yet, which made the aroma of urine and trash even stronger, which was not good. The lack of education is very evident here, because logical thinking isnt a common thread in the life. The government only requires up to a 6th grade education! most of the Liberians that I have come in contact with have graduated highschool and some college. Most know how to read and write, and basic math skills. The work ethic is much different. I am no carpenter but today we hung framed maps of the 6 counties that Creative Associates has schools in and the framers were just going to hang the pictures however, I stopped them to straighten them out and make sure they were level, They werent even going to eyeball it. nothing is done here to improve the asthetic look to things, only if Americansor other foreigners will be living there. People just throw trash on the ground like it is nothing, and people urinate on walls, and its humid and hot which doesnt help. oh wellmore ramblings to come!

eating and drinking

I tried two Liberian dishes yesterday, both had lots of rice, and fish. One was extremely spicy and the pepper left an after-taste kick. It is prepared in Palm oil and is very high in cholesterol. It stuck with me most of the day, which is probably why most eat it here, because it might be one of the only meals they get. If I ate it everyday, I would probably gain 100 pounds in my 5 months that I was here, and probably have a heart attack soon there after.
The local beer is brewed in Monrovia called Club Beer. It is a sweet beer and very malty. It is a decent beer, but things tend to not stay cold here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

One Week

I have been in country for one week. and i have seen a lot. I have enjoyed the NGO side and eating at the nice hotels and enjoying the beaches, but I have also had my Monrovian friends take me out to some of the hotspots for some 'boiling' or what they call going out and having a good time. I will know for sure by monday weather or not I have a real job, but as of now I am just volunteering around the office. The office is getting ready for a VIP visit from George and Laura Bush, I wont get to met them but its still pretty cool that they are coming here.
This country has potential but has so long to go. People just have trashed this place with war and literally with trash. A lot must be done to clean it up, but I think the right steps are in place for recovery.

Friday, January 11, 2008


I am all moved in and the accomadations are probably the best in Monrovia. Not really roughing it in the least bit. My bedroom is bigger than any I have lived in. The compound itself is in good condition and has razor wires all a top the the 10 foot wall running the perimeter of the facility. This is the view outside my bedroom window. I have not ventured out of the compound on foot, or by myself yet. About the only adventure I have had in me is to go sit by the pool alone. There is a beach not 100 meters from the compound, but it is unsafe to go visit. I don't think to ever truly enjoy compound life. There is no view, and its almost as if you have shut out the entire rest of the world. I guess if you try to help all the the time it is probably nice to have a place to come and hide.