We have been busy lately visiting places in and around Monrovia and meeting lots of new people. Let's hope I remember everything:
The other day we drove out to visit a childrens villages located on a large peice of land own by the UMC on the outskirts of Monrovia. The village has 19 cottages for the children to live in and a newly built school on the grounds that provides education up to 9th grade. Almost half of the cottages are currently empty, although there are about 75 children who live there. Many of the cottages need some repair as does the the chapel building. On the other hand, the grounds are very nice our brief meeting with the program director was very encouraging.
Mr. Kotoh is a blind man who has worked as an advocate for the blind in Liberia (and now disabled peoples in general) for over 20 years and has much to show for his work. We visting a workshop that he was holding at boarding school for the blind facility that he has helped build and develop through his advocacy. We had a very good meeting with him discussing his career in advocacy, the state of disabled in Liberia, and the future for other groups (especially the deaf).
The other day the director of the Human Rights Monitor took us out to visit the Owengrove district where the Firestone Plantation and factory are. We visited a small village just across the river from the factory to get a sense of the environmental impact that Firestone has had on that village. Also there, we saw a small concrete building with two small vents near the top that the distict had been using a prison before the Monitor worked to have it shut down. We were able to meet with the distict commissioner, magistrate, and a local school principle while during our visit. The school at one point had an enrollment of 400, but it has recently dropped to 200. During our visit we saw 3 students. It was the middle of a school day. All of these people were very gracious to interview us when we arrived unannounced, but we really enjoyed talking about their accomplished, goals, and challenges. I wish I had room to right about all of that.
Then finally we made some time to head out to a clean beach last night. It was a cloudy day, but still plenty warm to enjoy the water and the relaxation. In fact this entire weekend has been very nice. We didn't get a chance to go to the market on Saturday like we had planned (plans change quickly and often here) but spent the reading listening to the waves just outside our compound, taking turns laying on a hammock hanging in the shade of a couple of palms. It's odd to see such poverty and stuggle in a place that's so close to paradise.
Thanks for reading.