Ive reached the 6th week mark in my stay in 'Mamma Liberia' (as named by a text I recieved from the cell provider calling for citizens to keep Mamma Liberia clean) and have seen a lot, but also seen very little. Sorry for the paradox but one thing that I have seen in Monrovia is begging, scamming for money and an expectation that they will recieve something from me. I am torn, because I believe it is my duty as a Christian, and as a decent human being to help those in need. However, there are situations that I tend to stay away from and some I help, here are some examples,
The other day after playing tennis (you do anything to find exercise to avoid sitting in your compound all day) my partner and I decided to walk back from the apartment compound with the tennis courts to her place of work, about a five minute walk. We walked by a group of 5-8 year old girls who instantly began to say "Give me!, give me!" The had their palms out expecting something in return, we didnt have anythign but our tennis gear, and my friend looked at them and held out her palm and said no, you give me, which caused both sides to errupt in laughter and giggles. It breaks my heart to know the extreme level of poverty here.
Another example and tragedy, is the amount of amputees that flood the streets, most are amputees from the civil war, and the others due to poor health care, They usually gather around shopping centers and surround you once you leave your vehicle and expect money. once you make it past the amputees, you are surrounded by pirated DVD salesmen and other salesmen who sell everything from pillows to dog leashes and everything in between. There is at one of the supermarkets two amputees that tag team, one (missing an arm) opens the door , while the otehr (with out legs) holds a box for donations, I usually leave my change with him, mostly out of thanks for not being in my face about it. It is a sad state because even the Liberians are shunning the amputees to try to forget the civil war, so they arent hired, and thus forced to beg to a society that doesnt want to see them.
The last kind of scam, i have no sympathy for and it involves someone coming up to you telling you that they have a "insert family member here" sick and they need money, I had a guy just this morning as a I walked to work follow me then finally catch up to me to tell me his story, Thankfully it is a short walk and I was able to leave his company right as he asked me for money.
I want to help, but the big daddy complex of America will solve all our problems drives me crazy,Liberia can't be healed until its own people help each other...Its a tough subject to talk about because its amazing how little these people survive on...