Monday, March 19, 2007

This Can't Be Good!

At a guest house in Bong County: The cord for the TV was too short to reach the outlet, so the managers came up with this solution. Tell me if I'm wrong...but this can't be good!

When there are no working gas pumps, gas station attendents have to suck a bit of the gasoline up through the tube to get it flowing, and then quickly put the tube into the tank. (That's a one-gallon mayonnaise jar in his hand). This can't be good!

We were heading to Gbarnga at 120km/h (!!) when I took this photo of the taxi in front of us. This can't be good! Actually, this is not an unusual sight upcountry, and often the drivers even let one or two people sit on the hood. Gosh, where are the police officers when you need them? Oh, that's right - they don't have cars.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Shelter by Nature

Obadiah Gondolo is building a house out of sticks. He will make the walls out of mud, and the roof out of palm thatch. The whole process will take three weeks, and will cost him nothing since the kind landowner has let him have the small space in her yard for free.

Obadiah learned how to make a shelter out of nature's gifts when he enrolled in a free vocational training program offered by Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in 2005. "JRS really did well for us," he says, referring to himself and the 30 others who were in his class. "It's the first institution that really taught me something useful."

Obadiah and his family (wife and two children) look forward to moving into their new place, which, though small, will also include a little shop. They are among the last Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) still living in a nearby IDP camp in Salala, Bong County. Obadiah is from the Salayea District of Lofa County, but has chosen not to return until he graduates from high school. Because of the long civil war, however, he is still an 8th grade student at St. John Elementary and Jr. High School. "Before I go back to Lofa I will also learn to be an automechanic," he adds.

(Salala, Bong County, March 2, 2007)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Jerrilyn - Our Star is Rising!

Sold by a caregiver in exchange for a fish during the Liberian Civil War (yes, people were that hungry), Jerrilyn Mulbah was taken to live with an old woman in Saclepea, Nimba County. She was there for 2 years while her mother searched endlessly for her. Finally, someone recognized her picture as the little girl who sang in the Children's Choir in a Saclepea church.

Well, just look at her now!

Just as I knew she would, Jerrilyn made it to the Top 10 in the Idols West Africa singing competition. Our Liberian nightingale took the audience off its feet with a song by Aerosmith and won the most votes from callers in participating African countries.

If you live in Africa, catch the excitement on M-Net or Africa Magic. If you live elsewhere, visit Idols West Africa to see the auditions and Top 24 performances.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Fisherwomen at Work

I met a lovely group of women in Bong County using a fascinating method for catching fish. They line up their handmade nets, then wade towards them using their hands underwater to shoo the fish in! They will do this almost a hundred times to get enough little fish for a day's meal. (CARI Compound, Sunday, February 25).

Friday, March 09, 2007

Jerrilyn Mulbah: Liberian Idol

I've been watching the auditions for Idols West Africa and mostly laughing my head off at our aspiring singers. A couple of days ago though, a Liberian girl grabbed my attention and had me in tears and jumping for joy at the same time. Her name is Jerrilyn Mulbah. A sweet and pretty 23 year old with a beautiful voice and songwriting talents. She lives in Calabar, Nigeria, and has made it into the Top 24. Jerrilyn will soon be competing for the Top 10. Look for her story and see her audition on the website, and be sure to call in your votes when she performs in the next few days with Group 2! (and please forward this post to all your buddies!)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

International Women's Day: A Sit-In at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia

The all-female Indian police contingent served as security along with female officers from the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the AFL (Armed Forces of Liberia).

Photo taken from inside the Temple of Justice, where a woman is not allowed if she is wearing pants.

Mrs. Massaquoi and the Girl Guides of Liberia. The three fingers signify honor to God, Country, and Self.

Perhaps change should begin with modification of this discriminatory and exclusive motto written in large letters on the Temple of Justice. How long will we allow it to remain as it is? Language is powerful. Simply remove the word "men" and everyone will begin to feel the difference as the new motto sinks into the psyche of our society: "Let Justice Be Done To All."

Monday, March 05, 2007

Picture Quiz

Can you guess what this is??

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Nimba Portraits

Brothers in Butuo, Nimba County, where the Liberian civil war began in 1989

One of Butuo's most vocal activists for the rehabilitation and training of former combatants.


This is Laokay, a pretty little Gio girl. I asked her brothers what her name means. They replied, "When woman in de house, de house can be hot." (Saclepea, Nimba County, February 18, 2007)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Saclepea Snapshots

Saclepea is one of the major towns of Nimba County. These photos were taken on Sunday, February 18, 2007)

Ma Kou? For some reason the people in your ad just don't look like the type to drink gin - and certainly not straight out of the bottle!
A small market laid out on the ground. Pasta, beans, salt and other items are wrapped up in tiny quantities and sold for a dollar each. Since our smallest bill is a $5 note the buyer must get at least 5 items.

Martha (in the sunflower blouse) and her daughters cut and bundle freshly picked potato greens and palaver sauce leaves to sell at the market for $10 a bunch.