Thursday, May 29, 2008

Meeting with Ministry of Education

Hello all,
It has been a good, busy week so far. I have met the students at the school, and almost have all 40 some names down. Hopefully I will have them down by the end of the week. I have just been doing some observing of the classes, to see how the teachers manage their classroom, and to assess what level the students are working at.

This week, we also were supposed to meet with the Minister of Education of Liberia. Unfortunately, the minister's plans changed, but I was still able to meet with the second in command, the Deputy Minister of Administration. This was after being stuck in traffic, walking the rest of the way, climbing to the 6th floor where her office is, and hearing that she had just left because we were late. Fortunately, she came back while we were still in the area, and I had to climb the 6th floors again. I am sure I did not smell the best. Her name is Hawah Goll-Kotchi. I was able to ask her questions about Liberia's education system, and the plans they have for special education.

Overall, Liberia's education system is in desperate need. After the war, the few schools that remained in tact, are jam packed. Overflowing with students. There are few teachers left, since most fled during the war. The children who grew up during the war, are now illiterate adults. And there are a countless amount of children who are now physically disabled with no hands or legs.

The hardest thing for me to swallo, is that there is no special education in place. None. They have established an office and a "department," but there are no trained people to work in it. There is no training for special ed teachers at the university, and no laws to protect the many people with special needs, including the deaf.

There is hope. The ministry is starting to rebuild their education system. And the hope for the deaf, lie in the hands of the few Liberian who are willing to fight for their education and their acceptance, as well as the deaf Liberians themselves. I am working with these kinds of people now, and am encouraged daily by their faith and their determination.

Well, that is what I have been doing. Aaron will post soon about his buisness. I am still working on pictures. Our connection is not very good so it takes a long time!


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Outside the Compound

This weekend we really got to see a little bit of life here in Monrovia outside the UMC compound where we are staying. We took a trip to a local pizza place and went into a few markets and grocery stores. Then later on in the afternoon we got a walking tour of the Sinkor neighborhood in Monrovia (where the compound is). Then last we we out for dinner and to a small party at a friend of Joel's.

This morning we attended church with Joel. It was a lively service, much more so than we are used to. Although the preacher this morning was from California, go figure.

We are starting to pick up a bit of Liberian culture, the handshake, some lingo, it's a lot of fun.

Tomorow our work begins, we are very excited but don't really know what to expect. We will let you know how it goes.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

We are in Africa!

We arrived in Monrovia Wednesay afternoon around 4:30, after almost a full 24 hours of traveling. We were happy to be in Liberia, but exhausted from the trip and out bodies have still yet to adjust to the new time zone, and of course, the heat. Especially Aaron's body.

At our connection flight in Brussels, we met up with a Liberian woman we had met in the states. She was our livesaver at the Liberian airport, helping us get through immigration smoothly, and finding our luggage admist the chaos. We got out of the airport without hassle and were greeted joyously by David Worlobah, his assistant, Eric, and Joel, our host.

Our trip to Monrovia from the airport was about 30 minutes, and we arrived at the UMC compound around 6:00pm. Our home for the next couple of months is nice. We have our own room with a bathroom, which includes running water and a shower. It was a pleasant surprise. We also have electricity for part of the day, starting at 6:30pm until 9:00am. Which means no fans in the afternoon, but we are surviving. We at least have them when we sleep.

So far, we have met all of our neighbors, including a man from the states. We also got a driving tour of the city today. We hope to see more tomorrow, and hopefully will get our phones to contact you back home more easily. Well, we need to go have dinner. Our first meal was spaghetti and barbecue chicken, we will see what it is tonight.

Hope all is well in the states!

Monday, May 19, 2008

We Leave Tomorow

Our flight leaves from Chicago tomorrow afternoon and we will arrive in Liberia on Wednesday at about 5 pm local time. We can't believe this day has actually come, it still somehow seems like it's far away.

I just wanted to post once more before we left and let everyone know that we should be able to regularly update the blog from Liberia. It will be much easier for me to post everything here, rather than sending emails. So if you know anyone who wants updates on what we are, this is the place to send them.

We are unbelievably excited about this trip, and have had such a great time so far in the past few months, as busy as they have been. We want to thank everyone for all of your support, and let you know that it's not too late to contribute to our work as we have expenses to pay still, and will have to repay some of what we borrowed for the trip .

We already have several meetings scheduled to share our stories when we are back in August. If you want to come see us, or have us visit just send us an email, or leave a comment. We should have no trouble using our gmail accounts, but just in case I have set up a Yahoo! account for us to use while we are there. The address is, we will check this regularly while we are in Liberia.

I could write a lot more about how I excited we are and everything we are doing, but I will save the rest for after we arrive. Check back often, send us emails, pray for us, see you when we get back!