Kevin in Liberia

Its Purpose: to raise awareness of current social, political, ethical, and spiritual issues within a relief and development context in Liberia. Its effectiveness is simple: It relies on me, the author, to provide insightful, and often debate-sparking material that will encourage you, the reader to get engaged through comment contributions, emails, and promoting others to read, re-think, and respond to the important issues discussed.

I know not which is most profitable to me, health or sickness, wealth or poverty, nor anything else in the world. That discernment is beyond the power of men or angels, and is hidden among the secrets of your Providence, which I adore, but do not seek to fathom. ~ a prayer by Blaise Pascal

Monday, June 20, 2005

Things Starting to Get Interesting

Is it all over and done with? For the first time in two weeks there is some breathing room in the work here in Liberia. Today I believe we erased about three big ticket items off our whiteboard of stuff to do. We finally finished our big OFDA proposal for preventative health education and training as well as five primary healthcare clinics. I was at the office until 11pm last night and until 9:30pm every night for the past two weeks. We also nailed off a couple of other reports for projects that have just finished so that’s nice to have those out of the way. Our audit is also done so now we’ve got some breathing room. No more auditors breathing down our necks! Everyone is a crook over here it gets almost comical sometimes. If its not the auditors trying to get copies of your proposals to sell to other NGOs its your own employees trying to rip you off. Things are SO different in terms of ethics, or lack thereof. Ethics is not even a question. The only thing in Liberians’ heads is that of survival. In Liberia the ends justify the means.

Ok, what is new since the last post I put up? Well to start off we went camping/surfing in Robertsport a couple weekends ago. Robertsport is apparently the 2nd or 3rd best surf spot in Africa according to some un-verifiable sources over here. It did live up to all expectations as far as scenery and waves is concerned. I would have to say that Robertsport is THE nicest beach I’ve ever been to. The Oregon Coast is awesome and pretty on par with Robertsport but definitely different kinds of beaches for sure. Robertsport definitely blows away the overrated Cancun/Playa del Carmen or anything else I saw in the Caribeean. Its got two different colours of sand (deep tan and black) and there are intensely black rocks that makes for a just insane contrast between the two. The waves can get anywhere from 4-10ft depending on the conditions. We were surfing some six-footers but about a 100 yards to the left of where we were surfing were some classic 8-10 footers but the were breaking on rocks so definitely un-surfable. Anyways, when we first got to Robertsport it was absolutely pouring buckets. When we first arrived there were a bunch of PAKBATT members. PAKBATT stands for the Pakistan Battalion of the UN Military. There are a bunch of BATTs over here…PAKBATT, NIBATT, BANBATT…and many others. PAKBATT offered us some of their UN rations so we sat down with a bunch of Muslim troops and enjoyed some very tasty oranges. Two groups, one Christians the other Muslim, so different in beliefs but we held at least two things in common: 1) the un-bent desire to stay dry, and 2) a dying hunger supplemented by some of the most amazing oranges ever. These guys were super cool. I ended up talking to a couple of the soldiers about life back in Pakistan and we shared stories and stuff for about a half an hour. Definitely good times. The weekend was definitely dampered when we found out that our Land Cruiser had been broken into. We were walking down the beach about a mile from our campsite when Ryan, a friend of ours here from the US who is working for World Relief in microfinance, picked up a pair of glasses off the beach and brought them to my attention. I immediately recognized the glasses as my own! It took about a half a second for things to piece together in my head and realize that I had left my glasses along with my cellphone, Arcteryx jacket, IPOD, passport and ALL identification in the glovebox of our Land Cruiser. I knew in that split second that we had been broken into. I immediately pulled a 180 and started back towards the Land Cruiser in the expectation that ALL my identification, and whatever else I had left in the truck was gone! When I got back to the Land Cruiser sure enough, we had been broken into. I proceeded to climb through the exact side window that the robbers climbed through due to the fact that our campsite and the key to the Land Cruiser was another 5 mins down the beach. What I found inside was an absolute miracle! Out of all the stuff I left in the truck the only things that were stolen were my Arcteryx jacket (which really hurts), cell phone, and my earphones from my IPOD. I was expecting that ALL my identification was gone. I turned to Gareth, a brit buddy of ours out here also working for World Relief, and said “This is an absolute miracle!” I was very close to being in a very tight situation out here. Losing my jacket which cost close to $500 was a bit of a damper but its only a jacket so no big worries. I brought certain things over here assuming that they were going to get stolen so it wasn’t too big of a surprise. So that basically sums up the weekend at Robertsport so I shouldn’t go on too much about that.

So what else is new? Well back in Monrovia I’ve gotten out to surf I think once in the past two weeks and it wasn’t a very pleasurable experience. I was in the water for maybe 20 minutes tops, caught maybe 3 waves, and ended up with a bunch of jellyfish stings. When I looked more closely on the beach there were thousands of tiny, maybe one inch, jellyfish that had been washed ashore. I could feel little stinging sensations when I was in the water but these little buggers were too small to see when you’re paddling out there. Anyways, needless to say, I got a few stings on my arms and legs but nothing to write home about. I’m assuming that they weren’t too poisonous because I haven’t dropped dead yet. I’m going to try and get out on the water this weekend a bit. As far as any other animals or crazy insects over here that I’ve seen is concerned, the only animals I’ve seen are the Liberian drivers! Insects? Well we had a spider in our room that was the diameter of my hand but that’s about it. You get pretty used to that stuff after a while. Sarah, on of the Canadian girls here bought a mongoose today for $70LD which works out to about $1.25 CDN! Totally dirt cheap! This mongoose is pretty tiny so I guess I’ll get to see him grow up while I’m here….assuming he doesn’t decide to pack it in and die.

My motorcycle driving is coming along quite nicely although I did almost get into an accident twice today. I was about 30 ft behind the car in front of me and all of a sudden this pothole appeared right in front of me and I didn’t have time to swerve around it so I just took it straight on. I almost bailed. My rear wheel and the whole rear end of the bike was fishtailing and it almost got ugly but it turned out ok. A couple nights ago we rode bikes back to the house at about 10pm. I’m surprised we haven’t crashed into potholes driving the bikes at night. Its so dangerous…but I guess that’s what makes it fun.

This coming weekend might be pretty fun if we actually get some free time. We plan on going to a market where apparently its so disgusting that you need gumboots to walk around there because of all the garbage. I’m going to definitely be taking my camera through that one! It is known for its crime there too so I’m going to have to be on “amber alert” so that I walk out of there with my camera. Camera in one hand, baseball bat in the other…hehe. We also want to go find this one geocache that is in Monrovia. I punched the coordinates into my GPS and when we were in downtown Monrovia we found the statue that we think its on top of. This thing is like 20 ft tall and I have no idea how we’re going to get to the top of this thing if that is really where it is. It going to be interesting that’s for sure! If we get it I’ll be putting a post up for sure about that one!

Oh yes, I can’t forget to mention one more thing before I end this one off! Jonathan, my friend I’m working with over here, was at the Shepards’ house (a Baptist missionary family) for dinner the other night and told me that they took in a malnourished kid from a village somewhere in Liberia. This is what really got to me…the kid is 10 years old and weighs…get this…23 lbs! That is just incomprehensible to me. I’m sure I’ll be able to comprehend it a little more once I see this kid. When he told me that, it just blew my mind. Some of the funding of the project that I just wrote a proposal/budget for covers the feeding of some malnourished kids which is awesome. After hearing about that kid who at 10 yrs old weighs 23 lbs makes me really want to get that funding from the US government. I’ve also met the ex-coach of TWUs basketball teams out here. He’s a super cool guy and him and his wife have taken in a malnourished kid themselves. I’m not sure if they’ve adopted the kid or not but I think that might be the case. If I was over here for a longer time span I think it would be cool to adopt a kid like that and raise him/her. Dave, my boss, and his family adopted this kid named Menwoh years ago and I believe he weighed something like that 10 yr old when they first got him. Now he’s 18 and all healthy and the happiest kid on the planet. He’s a bit challenged due to the lack of nourishment growing up but he’s seriously the coolest kid ever.

Anyways, I think either my bed or hammock awaits me.

Til next time,



  • At 1:37 PM, Blogger Gaillie said…

    Hi, Kev!

    Thanks for this latest update. I was talking to Jim Gaull the other day and he was asking about you

    I'd like to ask whether you carry antidotes for the different poisonous animals that you might run into. The jellyfish are not too bad but one day it could be a viper or something

    Word up on those waves

    One day I am hoping for some photos... any word on when we can expect some?

    Praying for you continually

    Love you

    Mom :)


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