Monday, March 24, 2008

Census 2008

Liberia and USAID is currently working on the Census to count the Liberian people. Friday, March 21 was declared a National Holiday and all Liberians were to stay home to be counted. I was counted yesterday, March 23, 2008 and answered the questions. Today, at work I asked around and only ONE Liberian has been counted in my entire office. I know the census will be ongoing as the census people hit different areas of Monrovia and the rest of Liberia. As of now, there are 3 million people living in Liberia, and a million of those in Monrovia. I imagine this censuse will see a considerable increase in the population. I don't know how accurate it will be, or could possibly be given the situation and remoteness of most Liberians. Quite an undertaking. glad I was able to stand and be counted as an American in Liberia.


One of my favorite sights to see as I walk around is to see the children dance when they hear music that appeals to them. There are music salesmen who walk around pushing wheelbarrows filled with CDs and tapes and pump tunes out of a speaker connected to a CD player wired to a car battery. Kids of all ages will drop whatever they are selling or doing and dance, as if it natural. Then as soon as the music guy moves on, the kids stop dancing and go about there business. I think this could be used a metaphor for life. It does sadden me to see kids as young as 6 selling things!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

This is the view of the 9th hole from the clubhouse at Firestone about 50 Km outside of Monrovia. Firestone Plantation produces most of the rubber for the now Japanese owned tire company. The course is nice, because it is CLEAN, and the ability to get out and walk 9 holes is just amazing. The 'greens' are oiled sand, which makes for putting nightmares for me, because it is inconsistent depending on consistency of the oil, the heat, and so on.
When you step out of your car you are instantly surrounded by 30 15-20 year old boys wanting to be your caddy. Ricks the pro knows us, and has 'assigned' caddies to us. Jr. has been assigned to me. He is a quiet 17 yearold, and I appreciate the quiteness, because when I do make a bad shot the other caddies tell you, "no, thats bad." Really? thanks I couldnt see that!
I ask him all sorts of questions, and he talks sparingly but I tip well, so he doesnt mind. I hope to continue to golf at Firestone!

Friday, March 14, 2008

View From Monrovia

Every morning I walk down Randall Street to the Jmart where I work, and I pass the Captan Rattan Center. Captan Rattan was a small-small captain or captan, I guess he hadn't earned the 'i' yet, in the Liberian civil war. I assume he once sold furniture but now his center is an autoshop like the rest of the shops on my end of Randall Street.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

View from Monrovia

One of the more random statues that I have seen in Monrovia, and I can't figure out what it is symbolizing. I think it has to do something with distress because the face of the women is one of horror. I can't tell if it shows the horrors of women during or post war Monrovia. I hope to find the meaning of this and also to take more pictures around Monrovia.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cultural Difference part III

I attended the funeral of our co-worker last Saturday (3 weeks after she passed away) and the funeral was quite different than anything I had ever seen. We promptly arrived at 9:15 expecting traffic and for a 10 am start. Everyone else showed up at 10:00 am and started singing Hyms (Church of Christ Style) and the sound people and the video crew all set up. I didnt recongise the first few hyms but then they started Amazing Grace and that is sweet in any tounge, even Liberian English. after an hour of singing the crew was ready to start. Part of the service involved groups close to the deceased to give tribute. The group goes to the front, says something about the person, lays a wreath at the casket. The program had 10 groups for tribute. Two hours later the 20th group made its way to the front. We had been there for four hours in the swealtering heat and we left as quietly as we could to try not to be disrespectful. I think it is a correlation of how you lived your life and how many tributes you ahve at your funeral. However the difference was too much for me, as I think in America the wailing and beating on the casket and the tributes as well as the video cameras would just be too much for the familes.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Follow up Picture from Classroom

This is the same classroom I posted the other day, It makes it easier to think about teaching here when it is filled with little kids wanting to learn. It was fun to go to the classrooms and see all the smiling faces. This school received a small grant to spruce up the inside. It was painted a brighter color, and transparent roofing was put in to allow for more natural light to flood the classroom. It was a much needed improvement. This room is shared by two other ALP classes and are separated by dividers. This is an ALP Level I class. The ALP is an accelerated learning program that combines two grade levels into one level, so level I is grades 1 and 2. The teachers receive training on participatory learning so their techniques are better.

Solar Power

In the search to provide Liberia with sustainable power, Creative, has donated solar powered radios and lanterns for teachers and students to use in their night classes for overage war affected youth. The teachers use the radios to tune into teacher training broadcasts and the students use the lanterns to keep fuel costs low by not running the generators. (gas over 4.40 a gallon) The technology is still expensive but is sustainable! I think more of it should be used in reaching Liberia's remotest areas with light.