Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Community members, my students and I, after finishing planting a moringa orchard at the Leprosy Rehab Village.

Mary and I's godchildren Clarence and Clarencia, who are twins. This is a picture in our living room, from a day they came over to play. I would like to nominate them for cutest children in the universe.

My animal production systems class on our last day of lecture. (Senkro, Morlu, me, Jojo, and Beyan)

Martha and I peeling and eating Mangos that had just been knocked from the tree, at our favorite local establishment. Mango season was May and part of June. Mango trees are absolutely everywhere here, we could eat ourselves sick on them every day! Except it turns out Martha's alergic to the outside, and Mary to the inside, so that left more for me!

My students and I take a field trip to visit a school that has a cattle program. (if you look very close you can see a cow in the background).

Martha, me, and Mary at a shrove tuesday party.

My godson Clarence and I, after his baptism

Myself, Martha, and Mary at an agriculture field day where we discovered a group of napping cows (cows are not common in Liberia)

The house on campus where Mary and I live

Mary and I find local icecream after watching Cuttington win a soccer match.

Me and Martha with our new tropical christmas trees

Sunday, May 20, 2007

May Update

I’m sitting with my computer on the couch, it’s a Sunday afternoon and there is no power, because power shuts down at 10am on Sundays. We just had some friends over for our traditional Sunday lunch of egg salad. Our fan stands idle by the window. The window has no glass in it, none of our windows do, so the occasional breeze can come in, shifting the heavy humid air. Beads of sweat are forming all over my face, but I wipe them away before they start to fall. A layer of clouds outside is promising rain. It’s been 48 hours since our last rain, which seems like too long. From my window I can see the neighbors palaver hut (not too different from a gazebo), a few cranberry hibiscus bushes I planted which have finally outgrown their nemesis: the mealy bug, a couple wild baby palm trees, my rain gauge: a graduated cylinder, acres of green grass and plants that blend into “the bush”, rubber plantations, and the forest beyond. It smells damp and green. Occasionally someone drives by on the red dirt road, or a mango falls to the ground, or the neighbors stir the soup they are cooking on a coal pot in the yard, but apart from that it’s silent. A peaceful, relaxing afternoon.

After 4 weeks of the school being shut down, classes resumed last week. It has been a frustrating month, not knowing what was going on, or why classes weren’t resuming. After the first couple days of unrest, the remainder of the month was utterly quiet. This last week of classes was quiet as well, with students slowly filtering back on campus, despite new requirements and long journeys. There were rumors of a second protest, but it didn’t materialize. It seems like the students are afraid now, just to speak their mind. Even the weekly assembly, a forum for students to gather and bring up issues, was canceled. Most of the students’ demands were met, and facilities were improved during the “compulsory break”, but it seems to me that the real issue behind it all was a lack of communication and rapport between the students and Administration, and that seems worse than ever. But it is wonderful to be back in class again. It makes me realize how much I missed the students. The students are eager to learn, and I had two great labs this week where I got to swing a cutlass (machete) alongside my students to clear brush, survey a field, plant trees, and mulch.

Lots of good things happened this month too: I became a godmother, my Moringa orchard got planted, I was able to get a thousand more Moringa seeds and some legume seeds I was looking for, I started implementing a safe drinking water grant I wrote back in October, the Lifewater crew came to drill the well that St. Andrews, Torrance sponsored, and I got to spend a day at a health and sanitation workshop in a village. Having more time gave me the chance to think up new projects, and I’m going to try to get some Moringa trees planted in nearby communities, and teach them about the benefits: Moringa can be used to treat malnutrition, clarify water, kill internal parasites, and much more!

In past updates I’ve shared some insight or talked about some idea I was struggling with. But today I’m hot, and sticky and relaxing on the couch, thinking of playing Frisbee with Martha and Mary or watching a movie on my computer, or going out for an ice cold glass bottle of coke, and not particularly inspired about anything. It’s good to have days like this too, to be content in spite of and because of it all. Perhaps that’s the peace which passes understanding!