Day 4: Long Ceremonies, Long Days

Today we traveled west of Ganta to visit three more schools. By the time we got to the third school we were exhausted from the heat and strenuous car ride, and apparently the kids were exhausted too — we found out on our way there that they had been waiting on us since 8 a.m. (we got there around 1:30)!

After yesterday and today we’ve decided that three schools per day is a little too much to try to fit into just a few hours. From now on we’re going to do the best we can to have a more personal interaction with the main leaders of the school so that we can find out more intimate details about the institutions’ histories.

Because it is Liberian tradition to have large, loud and long welcoming ceremonies for any visitors (especially white ones), a lot of our time has been taken up with said ceremonies. Though exciting, these experiences aren’t exactly what we’ve been looking for, as it’s difficult to encourage people to tell us their personal stories in this crowded setting.

Our hope is that as we get the opportunity to have more one-on-one interactions with school representatives, we will be better able to make those individuals comfortable enough with us to tell us their personal experiences through the country’s civil war and the consequential struggles that they have dealt with.
James has, however, gotten some great pictures along the way.

Kids awaiting our arrival at Kpain School

Day 3: Visiting the first schools

Today we traveled east of Ganta to visit three schools in Nimba County. We didn’t quite know what to expect, but we found welcoming smiles everywhere we went. At two of the three schools, we even found that the administration and students had put together welcoming ceremonies for us. Over the entrance of each of these schools was a traditional Liberian welcome, an arch made of palm branches.

The third school was already closed when we got there in the afternoon, but we were still able to meet with the principal to learn about the school.

Our first day could definitely be called a success, as we’ve been able to gather a wealth of information for our project. Also, James was a huge hit with his camera. It’s safe to say that the average Liberian child is not camera shy.

All smiles from the students of Gbedin United Methodist School

Day 2: The ride to Ganta

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.

Day 1: Settling in

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.