I wasn’t able to document my daily travels or write small little glimpses of “twitter-esk” liners like seeing the spray painted message on the rubber bumper of an old 1980’s beat up Toyota, “don’t gissip, ask”. The very same bumper held together by tiger decals and the faith of all 4 – 9 passengers in the cab. (A standard) Being involved with new faces and learning something new about at least one person made a difference in my psyche but a whirl will.
Once two travel days become a few more, the fear of failure that had struck me before subsided. I was able to cross the Atlantic and by the chances of flawed connection flights, I had a 2-day layover in Brussels. I met amazing physicians like Dr. Ammann (president of the Global Strategies for HIV Prevention: check out www.globalstrategies.org) and Marian Roan (co-director for Hope Feeds: check out www.hopefeeds.org). They were like guardian angels sent from above. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have known how it felt like to have the air brush across my face in Bruges while ridding a bike, or known about the many facets of Bruges itself. (Thanks Dr. Ammann for your Free tour guide).
Once arriving in Liberia I met Cori Stern and Kristi, both amazing women with the tenacious capacity to finish the Strongheart home. I learned of the “balls out” responsible attitude. To step outside my comfort zone, to ask and be curious about life and the people & families around me. I wouldn’t have learned how to weave a basket out of bamboo and learned the story of Mr. Jones, the Robertsport Weaver in town. To really learn about the townspeople in Robertsport, to hear about their stories, their homes, their heaven. It was extremely hard for me, a bit uncomfortable and exhausting at times but I was so thankful for the opportunity to have a chance like this. In talking to the people about their stories, it was difficult to listen about what happened to their world prior to the civil war when it ended 6 years (facts) the villages and cities that once had electricity and running water, now most of them lay in darkness if it weren’t for a generator or candle. Evidence of the peacekeeping mission was seen with the UN trucks in city streets and buildings still riddled with bullet holes. I tried to prepare myself for most of it, but it was seeing young men; some my age, some older and some definitely younger with missing limbs. Some asking for change in the city of Monrovia. It was a reminder of the war, child soldiers with their lives permanently changed and that’s an image that I cannot erase. Like so many Americans, I didn’t understand the facts and events of anything outside our world once the news facts retired from the headlines.
Overall, I do see this once crippled country moving forward one positive attitude at a time. The country is just managing a rebirth and I especially see it with the young generation of children who experienced it or only know about their history thru stories. There are far greater things in life than living in a bubble. It’s 2009 and this planet has 6.3 billion inhabitants. Everyone is bound for greatness. If it means being the first black Liberian surfer, a basket weaver, a fisherman or a mother who advocates education to their children.
Where: Robertsport Liberia (2 hrs/50 km from the main city/capital Monrovia). The home that I helped rebuild is in the center of Cru Town where most fishermen and their families live and was off the coast.
please see my flickr gallery for more images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilvmoz/sets/72157622629515344/