A Visit To Liberia.
Written by: The Bridge on Wednesday, March 12th, 2008
This blog is about Liberia. We had visitors for 2 whole nights wow! After being alone in Palmgrove for 10 days, Brian and I got some visitors. White visitors “afio owo.” Ed and Judy came back from Liberia on Saturday, Feb. 23, they were gone since February 14. From the USA, Starland Colony, Joel and his wife Becky, Ruthie, and Lisa from Neuhof Colony came along with them. They stayed only 2 nights which disappointed us, they had planes to catch on Monday, the 25th. Despite the short stay, we enjoyed them immensely. Their initial destination had been an orphanage in Liberia where they stayed 9 days.
I thought this too good an opportunity to slip by, in the evening, the night before they were scheduled to leave for home, I sat down beside Lisa, pen and flashlight in hand, and got her to tell me some of the how’s, where’s, and why’s of their trip. I took notes; I will now try to write about their trip. Lisa, you will forgive and also let us all know if I got something wrong!
First, I asked why they went to Africa. Joel and Edward wanted to oversee a project that has been in operation for approximately 10 years. This project called WACSN, (West African Children Support Network), a network that has been set up so that Western Countries can adopt orphans from Liberia. It seems to be working very well. Starland Colony, (Charities), has been helping to feed, financially support the orphanage and a school of 300 children. Through Starland Charities, Joel sends containers of food, clothing, school supplies and more. Providence Christian Services occasionally donates towards this cause.
The contact people live in Minneapolis, USA, part time, and in Liberia part time. Momma Maria is the most significant person. Lisa described her as being a very influential person who knows how to get her way – which in my opinion, is necessary to be able to tackle such responsibilities as she does. One point that turns many people off from adopting a child is the immense cost involved. Lisa was quick to point out that Maria’s adoptions are much cheaper than anyone else’s are. Therefore, if any blog readers have been considering adoption they may want to give her a call! Maria wants to find homes for children, good homes where the children will be valued. Lisa could not get over how it was with children in Liberia; “children have no value there!” is what she said. They call everybody Mom and Dad; they have absolutely no concept of family life. Once the American visitors met a woman who tried to get them to take her children, “take them to America and give them a better life,” she told them. In Liberia, there is no school for most kids, even if they could afford it. For the schools that they have, they often use Church buildings, and most villages don’t have schools at all.
There were 2 American families also there at the same time. One was a mother who was adopting a child off the street a boy of 10 years. The father had been in Liberia 3 years prior to adopt three of the boy’s siblings. Anyhow, they said they were his siblings, around here you can never be sure. The second family was a pastor and his wife; they were adopting three children. They were a bit anxious over the middle child whose mother lived way out in the bush; therefore, the agency had a hard time finding her. She needed to sign the papers then the boy could be legally adopted. I think she showed up at the last minute, much to everyone’s relief. She could neither read nor write, I don’t know she managed to sign. Adopting today is not as easy as it used to be. Because of rampant child trafficking all over the world, there is more and more red tape involved.
Lisa mentioned that 80% of Liberia is unemployed, which may just be true for Nigeria, if not more, as far as I can tell. Here, it does seem that people have nothing to do. They sit. They stare. They sit some more. Sometimes they even walk. Randomly, I notice this when I go to town. Brian observed once when we had been here only about 2 weeks or so, “these people have nothing to do!” Which may tempt you to say, “Well, duh!” It is actually a bit amazing, no wonder this country is so poor and corrupt. However, let us get back to Liberia.
When asking about activities they had, Lisa mentioned cleaning of course, “the Hutterite way!” (You could clean yourself into the grave here. 😛 ) The first day, they planted a garden on Maria’s compound. By the time they left 8 days later it was already coming up, especially the corn. They raked lawns, and tried to motivate some of the unemployed guys who were forever standing around to help. They hang around all the time because Maria gives them a meal in exchange for work they do for her. When Lisa and Ruthie gave the men a bit of something to eat, they threw their wrappers down right where they were standing, the girls scolded them and tried to get them to pick it up again. “They don’t know what a trash can is!” Lisa exclaimed. There was trash everywhere. Some days they toured Maria’s various projects, which include a medical clinic and a hotel that is in progress. The Medical building itself is complete, but there is no equipment inside yet. They are praying that some good Samaritan will help fund or find some. Volunteer doctors have already offered their part time services once the clinic is up and running. The hotel is a four-story building, incomplete without a roof. The reason for this hotel is the potential of bringing in money to sustain the orphanage and school. In their free time, they swam in the ocean, which was only a 5 minute walk from where they were staying. The weather was very hot.
An exciting event that occurred in that week was the visit George Bush made to Monrovia. The girls stood under the hot sun for three hours, to await his coming, then they saw him through tinted windows for 10 seconds, escorted by about 20 vehicles, he drove past in his motorcade,. The City of Monrovia closed down for this occasion, and excitement was the order of the day. The President had come to Africa to talk about aids and malaria prevention. He had also visited Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania. If I remember correctly, it was UN soldiers patrolling the streets. They were still in Liberia because of the civil war, which is now over since 2003. Since it lasted for 13 years, the city is pretty much destroyed. (The name Liberia ironically means “liberty”) The UN soldiers were at fault for many, many illegitimate children during the war. In fact, it became so much of a problem that women soldiers had to be called on duty. Now that is pathetic.
That pretty much sums up what I know of their trip. This is second hand knowledge, I trust Lisa can leave a comment if she is not happy with something.
I hope you four had a great trip home and have had your bubble baths and beefsteaks. I know all of you are wondering, I can actually say I don’t wish it was me on that plane home, ‘cuz I think I am settling in nicely here in Palmgrove, Nigeria, Africa. I might just make a year here! 😀 Ruthie, thanks a million for leaving me your perfume, it comes in quite handy in this hot weather I’ll have to make it up to you some day.
Edward feels the poverty in Liberia is truly a lot worse than Nigeria, that this project is equally if not more valuable than the Palmgrove project. With all the time, money and effort spent in Palmgrove, one would like to see more results. One wonders if the same were spent in Liberia, would there be changes for the better in 10 years, 20 years? Momma Maria has offered the Hutterite Church a 60-acre plot of land free to start an aid project of sorts. A school, garden, orphanage, or whatever would help to assist bringing Liberians out of poverty.