ugh...I just wrote a novel of our last week and lost it all : ( Oh well....I will just have to sum it up again.
We have had a busy but good week. We made it to the interior! We caught a ride in a PMU (Pentacostal Mission Union) land cruiser to Voinjama which is approx. 8hr drive on some VERY rough african roads. Reminded me a bit of the road to Kilangala. The interior of Liberia is very tropical. Lots of palm trees and a few rubber plantations. On our arrival to Voinjama we stayed at the PMU office. Again no electricity or running water but we had a roof over our heads and a mattress so we were happy.
The next day we walked around the town a bit. It was destroyed by the war as much of the fighting began in this area. We bought a few boiled eggs and some bread on the side of the road for breakfast. We then held a workshop for the PMU social workers/nurses. This was the deal we made with PMU. P.A.C. offered that we would hold a few workshops if they could provide transport and lodging. There are many complex issues going on in this country. One being land reclamation. Many people fled during the war and are now coming back to reclaim their land but many people are occupying it. Also all the homes were destroyed so they are all trying to rebuild them.
We left that evening to Foya which is approx. 2hr drive on some more rough roads. Here we stayed in the PMU guest house with a swedish family that has been working in Foya since September. We had electricity run by a generator AND A SHOWER!!!! Wow, we did not realize how much we have missed having a shower. We also ate a few meals with the swedish family and they had some imported food such as cheese, tuna, raisins and some other things that we have not eaten for awhile. We felt a bit spoiled. The swedish family which consists of the husband working as project manager, the wife is a nurse overseeing the hospital in foya, their two young sons and a swedish school teacher. They were fantastic!! We all agreed that the people of sweden and canada are very similar. They are very kind, polite and very welcoming to guests. We felt very much at home. It was also nice to exchange stories on their experiences of volunteering in Liberia as our struggles are very similar.
We also attended an NGO mtg in Foya with two of the men from P.A.C. as they hope to expand their work into this region. The next day we travelled by taxi car to Koindu which is in Sierra Leone to attend the Makona River Union Conference. Again it was quite the site. This city used to be grand with hotels a huge mosque and buildings and now the cement foundations and some of the walls is all that remain. Many political figures were at this conference to discuss how they can keep peace among these three borders (Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia). I can only imagine the difficulty it was to organize this event. There are few places to stay in this town, no electricity, no running water. We spent the day there talking to some of the union members. We met a guy from Sierra Leone who lives in Edmonton and came home to see how he could help rebuild. When we were ready to go back to Foya we realized there were no cars driving that direction so luckily P.A.C. is friends with the Lofa region M.P. and his personal truck drove us back to Foya that evening.
The next day we held another workshop for the hospital workers in Foya. It went quite well and we had some good discussions on HIV/AIDS and general medical/confidentiality issues. Seeing the hospital makes me so thankful for our healthcare system. The ICU, maternity, pediatric, post op, and OR are all in one long building and there are about 40 beds and it is the only hospital in the area.
We are very glad that we were able to see this part of Liberia. On our journey home we had to stop for a tractor convoy. A 30 million dollar agricultural project is going on in Liberia and they were in the middle of transporting approx. 8 pieces of john deer farming equipment (combines, sprayers, etc). They were all brand new and quite the site to see in the interior of a 3rd world country. I will be interested to find out how this project works out as I do not know how they will maintain all of this agricultural equipment.
Our journey would not have been complete without a breakdown. After about 7hrs of driving, only 30min from home our cruiser broke down. Luckily it was right by a little market where we bought avocado, small oranges, cucumbers and sweet potatoes. Finally after a few hours another cruiser came to our rescue and we made it back to P.A.C. We were greated by our 100 PAC kids who were playing vball, bball, soccer, kickball and this game the small girls play with our flipflops.
We are currently back in the little cafe with free internet and expensive food trying to do some research for the rest of our trip. Our plan is to stay with P.A.C. until April 11th and then we hope to travel to Ivory Coast and then onto Ghana....but we are still very flexible so who knows what will come next.
Just a few quick msgs.....
Angie you must be home in Canada again, hope your trip went well!
Lindsay Price, I don't know if Kristin has this blog address but if you could let her know that would be great as we hope to visit her when we reach London in August (she facebooked me but facebook does not work well here). Also if YOU have any lay overs on your travels to and from Sidney we should meet up : )
Mom and Dad Price hope your trip to South Africa went well!
Mom and Dad Pommier thx for the money transfer assistance! we plan to pick it up on monday.
DBuck are you still interested in doing some correspondance with your students? It might be a little hard unless done by email. Even email, would be hard as internet is hard to find in these parts. Let me know...
Have a lovely wedding Jan and Trevor!!! Congrats!
Pete two shots to the armpits (tshik tshik)
Hope Acme/Linden has a good alumni weekend!
Hello Unit 57!! Seeing the hospital and minimal staff in Foya I am thankful to work at the FMC with all of you
Take care everyone, miss everyone lots and very much enjoy the updates people have sent.
Jerome and Robin