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

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Work Continues


Its been a while since I've last posted on the site so I decided I'd quit making you guys all wait and give everyone something to chew on with a little message to let everyone know how I am and what Equip and myself are up to these days. Upon a bunch of firings/layoffs, or what they’d say in North America, “downsizing” due to lack of funding and almost all of our project budgets running out. No wonder Dave wanted me to rally the troops back home in search of additional funding…or “shake all the bushes”. Anyways, on the 30th of May we got news that one of our donors is going to be giving us an amount in excess of double of what we were supposed to get so that will help the efforts immensely. I just finished writing a proposal for funding for a project that will re-integrate ex-combatants back into society and allow them to establish a career and get trained in a certain skill such as agriculture, carpentry, or masonry etc. We kind of have mixed emotions about going forward with this project because of the potential implications it might have if donor funding doesn’t come promptly. The money doesn’t come, we can’t pay the ex-combatants, the ex-combatants get mad, turn to their old violent ways, and come hunt us down for their pay. That gives you a little idea of the risks involved with the project. It has its benefits for both the ex-combatants and us as an organization so it could work out good for both parties assuming all goes well. Working with kids who were previously paid killing machines isn’t always easy.I’ve seen two “devils” since I’ve been here also. There is a secret society in Liberia called the Devil’s Bush whereby those who are initiated are sworn in through a gruesome sickening ceremony where they partake in cannibalism, swear and make a pact with the devil, and die to the world. Apparently someone who is initiated into the Devil’s Bush doesn’t have to pay their existing debts off because as far as their creditors are concerned they are new people…”born again” if you will. Its pretty sad, and very sickening to say the least. Also when they are initiated they get cut up and are left with tons of scarring usually around their waistline. Depending how far up in society the master devil thinks you can make it makes a difference of how many scars you’ll end up. Anyways, these “devils” are people who have given their lives to Satan and the dress up in these menacing costumes and go around using terror and fear to get money out of people. Dave was telling me about a story of 3 guys who were supposed to get baptized one weekend and the devils heard about this and came into town trying to find these guys so that they could initiate them into the Devil’s Bush before they could give their life to Christ. Dave has so many stories of encounters with the Devil’s Bush members and other near death experiences. I’m surprised this guy is still alive. He’s been through war here, dealt with the Charles Taylor regime, been driven out of his home just like a lot of people in Liberia, imprisoned, you name it. He was actually writing a book about his life but for some reason stopped. I want to get a hold of a copy of it. Its quite incredible what kind of tenacity this has. He’s quite an intense boss that’s for sure!On the lighter side of things, I’ve been out surfing a couple times now and we’re planning a trip to Robertsport which is about 3 hours North of Monrovia. Robertsport is supposedly the 3rd best surfing spot in all of Africa so I’ve got some serious expectations! We’ll take one of the Land Crusiers up there. Its nice to drive a Land Cruiser owned by an NGO. Its amazing how much respect you get by driving a white NGO Land Cruiser or UN vehicle. Its basically instant access to almost anywhere. If you’re a Liberian that’s a different story, but for NGOs it seems like people respect you for that…which is nice. There are too many ex-pats here to count. Don’t worry mom, I’m not the only white person here! I was telling Jonathan that for some strange reason I feel safer in Liberia than I did in Guatemala. I can’t let my guard down though. The minute you let it down they’ll get you!Anyways, that’s basically what I’ve been up to lately….working, working, and more working. Oh yeah, we drove past some of Charles Taylor’s killing fields the other day which was pretty sickening. Hopefully all that is in the past.I’ll post some pictures as soon as I can. Be patient!As a Liberian advertisement here in Monrovia says…”Rice is life…but not all is well in the world of rice”

Thanks for keeping me in your prayers,