It has been an amazing trip, but it’s so good to be home. A total of 32 hours of traveling time has left us exhausted. After our first shower with running water since we left home and a full meal we’re extremely tired. It’s only 7 here, but our bodies are still on Liberia time where it’s 11 p.m.
We have a lot of material that we’ve gathered during our stay in Liberia and, now our job is to compile it all and turn it into a final product. We will keep all of you updated with articles, exhibits or anything else that comes out of our project.
Thank you to everyone that has supported and followed us through our journey!
Yesterday we had a fitting end to our trip as we attended Hope for the Deaf’s closing ceremony. We originally planned on going to College of West Africa’s commencement as well, but because apparently every other high school in Monrovia was also having their commencement yesterday, traffic was so terrible that we could not make it in time. It took us 45 minutes to travel one block.
A young graduate of Hope for the Deaf
Tomorrow we’re packing up to head home on our Monday flight. We’ve enjoyed our time here, but we are very excited to be home again.
We didn’t travel far from home today as we only went down the road, where we discovered a unique school. After our meeting with the Director of Education of all of the United Methodist schools in Liberia, we visited Hope for the Deaf. This school caters to those with hearing impairments between the ages of 8 and 24.
When Hope for the Deaf was founded it was the only school in Liberia that tailored to students with hearing disabilities. The school teaches students the traditional academic curriculum, as well as basic skills like sewing for the girls and shoe making for the boys. This gives these deaf students vocational skills that allow them to enter the work force. Without this training, these students may not have any other means to sustain themselves.
It was both refreshing and exciting to meet with the principal who is very enthusiastic about what he is doing. When David Worlobah was in high school, he found his passion for working with the hearing impaired, and even traveled to Zambia to study American Sign Language.
Sorry for the lack of posts over the past few days — we’ve been working around power outages.
A student at Hope for the Deaf greeting us with an “I love you”
A hearing impaired student showing the shirt that she had made.
Despite the rain, we visited West Point Township today, the most impoverished and densely populated area of Monrovia. The principal of John Kofi Asmah United Methodist School, Sam Quarshie, came with us to the school, otherwise we would have never found it.
It was raining once we arrived in West Point and parked at the church, out of sight of the school. In order to get to the school we had to walk through a maze of homes, mostly smaller than 10×10 feet. Thank goodness Sam knew where he was going, because all sense of direction was lost after maybe the third turn down a narrow alleyway.
One of the alleyways on our way to the school. Should have brought boots.
When we finally made it to the school, we had a short tour and then sat down to talk with Sam. The school building is only a couple of months old, and an impressive three stories high. In the middle of Liberia’s worst slum, this is probably the nicest school facility we’ve seen so far.
West Point is a peninsula that protrudes from downtown Monrovia and is adjacent to Monrovia’s port. There are approximately 70,000 people living in West Point, and it is not a very large space of land. At first glance, it seems to be no larger than the average U.S. college campus, and it’s becoming smaller due to erosion into the ocean. West Point is primarily a fishing community.
The view from the top story of the school of the slums and fishing boats of West Point.
So we had just about exhausted the schools in Ganta by the end of today. Our original plan was to stay in Ganta until Friday, but we decided that it would be better to go ahead and head back to Monrovia today. Also, on Friday there is a huge funeral in Ganta for Reverend Herbert Zigboo (who was very influential in the Methodist Liberian community) that is going to be bringing hundreds of people into town, and things are going to get very hectic. So now we’re back in Monrovia and we will be getting in contact with some people here before we start visiting more schools and their administrations.
Earlier today we visited Ganta United Methodist School, talked to the principle, and got a tour of the school from our friend Mandrick and two students. One of the most interesting parts of the school was former boys’ dormitory that had been destroyed during the civil war. There were men working on the reconstruction as we walked through the building, but they hadn’t made much progress as there were still pieces of concrete and burned wood covering the ground.
What’s left of the boys’ dormitory hallway
After that we started our long trek back to the capital city. The only thing worse than the ride to Ganta was the ride back from Ganta in the dark. Thankfully we made it through the bumpiest part while it was still light, but once we got closer to the city the sun went down and the traffic picked up. Trucks zooming past and motorcycles weaving through traffic while you can barely see them was pretty scary. Safe to say it was one of the more stressful moments of our trip so far. And who knew that 9 o’clock at night is rush hour in Red Light, Monrovia? (By the way, it’s named Red Light because it has the one stop light in all of Monrovia (that hasn’t worked since before the war)) It was bumper-to-bumper-to-motorcyle wheel-to-wheelbarrow-to-kneecap traffic.
Rush hour at night in Red Light
But we made it back safe and are excited about the Bishop’s air-conditioned rooms and Rebecca’s cooking.
Today we made the journey from Monrovia to Ganta, a 160-mile journey that took us a combined six hours to complete. The roads were fine for the first two thirds or so of our trip, but as we continued the roads got worse and worse, with potholes every few feet and some sitting water from the recent rains. This final third of the ride took more than three hours to complete in itself. We finally got to Ganta at around 7 p.m., exhausted from the strenuous ride. Tomorrow we visit our first three schools in Nimba County.
4-wheel drive highly suggested.
We got an unexpected “settling in day” today after our trip to Ganta was postponed until Sunday. We got to do some exploring around downtown Monrovia as well as some recuperating at the home of Bishop John G. Innis, our host. We have internet access for the time being but will likely be without it again during our time in Ganta (we return this coming Saturday evening).
Tomorrow we begin our time in Ganta after a short six-hour car ride. The rainy season has already begun here, so the ride is likely to be pretty muddy in addition to the already-expected bumpiness.
Once there, our actual work with the schools will begin.
Bishop Innis’ home in Monrovia, and ours for the next three weeks.
We promise to have better pictures in the future. It took us 30 minutes to load just this one.