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, July 14, 2005

The Liberian National Flower - Scrap Metal
Posted by Kev-o-rama

Ahoy Matie!! ....a beached whale of iron
Posted by Kev-o-rama

Classic African Fishing Canoe
Posted by Kev-o-rama

On Route to the Shipwreck - Gareth (World Relief - left), Sarah (Samaritan's Purse - right), Jonathan (EQUIP - middle)
Posted by Kev-o-rama

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

On the way to work (note how 2 lanes turns into 4 in a matter a a few potholes)
Posted by Kev-o-rama

Shipwrecked - drop the anchor!
Posted by Kev-o-rama

Ah yes, the mongoose...
Posted by Kev-o-rama

Adventures, Adventures, Adventures


Its been way too long since the last time I’ve written and there has been a lot going on, both with work and play, lets start with work. EQUIP has seen two people leave and one come. First it was Jody that we had to say goodbye to and about a week ago we said farewell to Mrs. Bono (Sarah Card). Sarah’s departure from Roberts International Airport was a little less dramatic than Jody’s that’s for sure. About 4 hours before Jody’s plane took off she broke the news to us that she didn’t know where her passport was. It a classic Jody frantic the whole EQUIP crew along with Ryan and Gareth from World Relief frantically searched the Silver Beach house and combed through Jody’s luggage for her passport but to no avail. After a about an hour of searching any praying we ended up tracking it down in one of our other Land Cruisers that just happened to be in downtown Monrovia, about 25 min. away. It ended up that we were still early for her flight but only because they say to be at the airport like 5 or 6 hours before your flight…who knows why. Ten days after Jody left it was Sarah’s time to say goodbye. It was really sad to see her go because she was quite the gongshow. She actually had her stuff in order a day before hand so there was no last minute confusion and everything went fairly smoothly at the airport.

Besides dropping people off at the airport the rain here has been quite the spectacle. I thought it rained in Vancouver a lot. We’ve estimated that in the past couple weeks its rained about 4-5ft. Yeah, that’s right… “feet”, not inches. We had a two day span where it rained about a foot and a half. I have never seen rain like that before in my life. Its quite insane. West African rain gives the word “monsoon” a whole new meaning in my vocabulary. If I were to step outside during the hardcore rain it would about 5 or 6 seconds before I was completely soaked. No wonder these roads around here fall apart so much. The main highway into Monrovia has been under repair for the past 2 or 3 weeks or so. So needless to say, traffic has been absolutely retarded. Liberian drivers are one thing and then you throw a little rain in there and watch out! You know you’re in Liberia when you almost spend more time in the oncoming lane then you do in your own! Oh the things I’ll miss about Liberia. The list goes on. As only Liberians would do, they took out the entire highway to install this giant culvert instead of doing what any other rational individual would do; that is take out only one lane at a time until the other side is fixed etc. So anyways, they block the entire highway (the gauntlet which we ran by driving in the oncoming lane and faking a right turn then booting it past the “police”. Ah yes, another Liberianism…you know you’re in Liberia when a Liberian “police officer” tries to pull you over and you tell him to move out of the way and keep driving. Anyways, before I get too sidetracked, they better fix the main highway soon because the detour route around this highway blockage is now going to be out of commission in a big way soon. It looks like a little river has developed under the road from all the rain and part of the road has collapsed and its just a matter of some more rain and the entire road is going to cave in. I just hope I’m not the one who drives over and makes it collapse. I’d sure love to be there to take some pictures though! We’ve gotten into a bit of a habit of filming video clips of our drive into work. Some of the video clips are pretty priceless. I’m sure someone on the internet will appreciate them…hehe.

What are some other stories that you guys might appreciate…We had lunch at a new Chinese restaurant in town and we had fully armoured bodyguards at the restaurant. I’m thinking some UN bigwig was having lunch there so he had his own private body guard as well as four UNMIL (United Nations Mission in Liberia) officers guarding all four corners of the building. That novelty wore off after about 2 or 3 minutes. The other day there were probably a dozen UN tanks lined up along the main highway and looked like they were ready for something. I never did quite find out what was going on with them but they’re not there now so obviously they had something better to do. A couple nights ago we got invited down to the Mamba Point restaurant/hotel for a Canadian only meet and greet with some dude from the embassy. It was kind of interesting to meet all the Canadians in Liberia. I think the best part of the affair were the free Canadian-Liberian flag pins I hooked up. Other than that it was pretty much a waste of time.

Another exciting thing that has been going down lately is the fact that Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia here (run by TWUs ex-basketball coach and his wife – totally cool individuals and hardcore Settlers lovers) has brought in three new people all in their mid 20s. There are two new American girls and one guy who hails from Chilliwack of all places and also a ex-UCFV Business student. The one girl Sarah seems to be super cool and the guy seems pretty gnarly himself. The other girl Courtney I’ve only hung out with twice during Settlers games so I haven’t quite got a verdict on her yet but she’s got some fun potential. All-in-all more people is better and always makes things more interesting. Gareth, Ryan, and World Relief’s Korean West African region’s accountant, Jonathan, Sarah (new Sarah), and myself went out yesterday to explore this mysterious shipwreck about 15 min down the road from our place. We had to do a bit of 4x4’ing to get there and then a 25 min. walk down the beach and we were finally there. I better not miss out the exciting walk down the beach. On our way down to the shipwreck we came to these spots on the beach where the ocean came inland in a bit of a river formation. The water would go in and out with the waves so you had to time it right to get across. The others waded across and were basically up to sea water anywhere from their knees to their waist. I decided to take a more inland approach thinking it might be a little more shallow. So here I go quickly wading through this water and the next thing I know the earth basically drops out from underneath me and I’m up to my neck in water for about 3 or 4 seconds. I had my camera draped around my shoulder and by my side and my GPS in one hand. GPS got totally soaked but luckily its waterproof up to 3 feet or so. My camera case got absolutely soaked but I rescued my camera in time. The shipwreck was pretty sweet when we finally got out to it. I’m not sure how long its been there but its pretty rusted out by the looks of it. We climbed around it for a while all the time making sure not to cut ourselves on the rust. Jonathan said the floors he was on were about to fall through. Ryan and I went around to the side of the ship facing the ocean and took pictures (none which turned out – all blurry) while ducking out of the way of waves. The waves at that part of the beach were huge. We’re definitely going to have to go back with the surfboards and camping gear and make it a weekend. This one particular wave on our walk back was about 8ft high and kept breaking for probably 200-300 ft down the beach. It was quite spectacular. The walk back from the wreck was almost as exciting as the walk there. We had to cross another one of these miniature rivers. So here I go again camera in one hand and GPS in the other. To make a long story short I ended up pretty much falling on my back in this seawater and all the while sacrificing the body for the sake of the electronics. The only thing out of the water was the GPS and the camera as I lay on my back. We have it all on video its quite amusing. We got back to the World Relief 4-Runner after dark and found that it hadn’t been broken into. Quite a pleasant surprise considering Gareth and Ryan had left their laptops in there. Wow, this section has been quite long so I might as well end it off by saying that we got the 4-Runner stalled after plowing it through a gigantic puddle on the way back. Twenty minutes later we got it started and we were on our way home. Just another interesting weekend in West Africa.

I think I’m fully recovered from my bout with malaria and whatever else I had here a few days ago. We’ll see how long that lasts but until then I’m feeling pretty good…and finally eating! In a 3-day span there a few days ago I slept 37.5 hours and ate maybe the equivalent of about two meals! I think that’s a record for me.

Well tomorrow its possibly another few days upcounty in Ganta for a workshop but we’ll see if that actually pans out. There are so many thing going on right now that I don’t know if we can afford to send everybody upcountry. We’ll see who actually gets left behind!

Sorry about the huge delay on writing but I figure that this one is long enough to read that I can wait a few days and start writing a new one and you guys won’t even be done reading this one.