Healthy Soul

Harper, Maryland County, Liberia still eludes me

Iris’ words came back in a flash. “Go and enjoy the experience. Do good work. Just know that the things you shipped will not get there for a long time.” She then told me about what her mother went through moving back to Montserrat from New York City. The shipper picked up furniture and personal items in November, a month before they flew out. Six months later, in May, calls were being made to find out when the items would be delivered. Another three months went by before the delivery was made in August.

My heart sank when I heard her story. I hoped my situation would nor mirror her mother’s as several Liberians in Philadelphia said they used Mr. Sam Devine and he was good. I didn’t think of asking if things showed up within the time frame he stated. I was so focused on being sure that what showed up in Liberia was everything that I sent.

The Liberian Ministry of Education is housed in an eight story building that was privately owned before the civil war. There is no signage on the front of the building. The first two floors are closed off and a school  of cosmetology operates on the third floor. The Bureau of Early Childhood Education is on the eight floor in what used to be an apartment. It is believed that President Johnson Sirleaf had lived there when she was the Minister of Finance.

The Liberian Ministry of Education is housed in an eight story building that was privately owned before the civil war. There is no signage on the front of the building. The first two floors are closed off and a school of cosmetology operates on the third floor. The Bureau of Early Childhood Education is on the eight floor in what used to be an apartment. It is believed that President Johnson Sirleaf had lived there when she was the Minister of Finance.

His brother picked up my barrel and several boxes on December 17, 2011 saying a shipment leaves for Monrovia every month and it takes 30 days. So, without getting any written guarantee from Mr. Devine, a mid-February date settled in my head. Today he informed me by text message that my things are expected to arrive mid-March. Mid-March? The positive spin is that date represents only a 30-day delay.

Like my friend Iris Berkel, Mr. Devine is based in Atlanta. His team picks up, by truck, items from customers in more than 20 states. When all the items arrive in Atlanta, AND when he has a full container, then and ONLY then a shipment is sent off.

The street level of the Ministry of Education has a very large plaza. There are booksellers, food vendors, and Kinko's Liberia style. I'm not sure whose electricity is being tapped, but these entrepreneurs have flat screen monitors and printer-copiers set up for anyone with a flash drive in need of their services. Black and white pages are LD$0.35 and color is LD$0.45 per page.

The street level of the Ministry of Education has a very large plaza. There are booksellers, food vendors, and Kinko's Liberia style. I'm not sure whose electricity is being tapped, but these entrepreneurs have flat screen monitors and printer-copiers set up for anyone with a flash drive in need of their services. Black and white pages are LD$0.35 and color is LD$0.45 per page.

The best analogy I can think of is having a huge trunk sitting open in your living room and your friends and family from all over are sending you packages of various sizes. As the packages arrive you stack them in the trunk. When the trunk is finally full, you’ll close it and send it off. The first package to arrive may have been sitting there for quite some time. Such is the Mom and Pop version of the international shipping business.

Another set-back occurred today. Dr. Carbajosa, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Reverend Townsend, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, and I were scheduled on the United Nations Mission to Liberia (UNMIL) flight to Harper. We got to the airport early and sat in the check-in area with military personnel from Turkey, Pakistan, the USA, and India.

You can get the popular fiction and non-fiction books about Liberia including the constitution from the booksellers on the plaza at the Ministry of Education.

You can get the popular fiction and non-fiction books about Liberia and by Liberian authors including the constitution from the booksellers on the plaza at the Ministry of Education.

The flight to Ganta was called and several passengers lined up, were checked in, and boarded. The only other flight from the small James Spriggs Payne airport was called: Greenville, Swedru, and Harper. The representative at the desk announced she would be calling for passengers in groups: military, other UN personnel, affiliates of UN agencies, and all others. As partners with the United Nations International Development Organization (UNIDO) we would be in the third group.

The United Nations Mission In Liberia terminal at the James Spriggs Payne airport.

The United Nations Mission In Liberia terminal at the James Spriggs Payne airport.

Before completing the second group she announced that because of the weight of supplies already loaded no more passengers were being accepted. Only 25 passengers had boarded. Harper is still being illusive. Back to the office and across the street to the Royal Hotel’s restaurant for late breakfast. Sitting on the deck were two members of the Tubman University faculty who had just returned from visiting with family in the USA and were heading back to Harper for the January 23rd start of classes.

Breakfast planning meeting for the early childhood education demonstration classroom and  resource center on the Tubman University campus.

L-R: Dr. Carbajosa, VP for Academic Affairs; Jerome Griffin, Dean, School of Education; Darryl Brown, programmer; Lillian Nealy, Director, Early Childhood Education Programs; Yukhido Amnon, Coodinator, Bureau of Early Childhood Education, Ministry of Education; Barbara Kamara, Senior Associate, Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute, University of the District of Columbia.

My cloudy day’s silver lining was participating in the planning meeting for the early childhood education demonstration classroom and resource center on the campus of Tubman University with Dr. Jerome Griffin, Dean, School of Education; Lillian Nealy, Director, Early Childhood Programs at Tubman University; Yukhiko Amnon, Bureau of Early Childhood Programs, Liberia’s Ministry of Education; and Barbara Kamara, Senior Associate, University of the District of Columbia’s Early Childhood Leadership Institute.  The Ministry of Education is also planning to develop an early childhood resource center. Susie, Helen, Erika I will share more about this initiative later.

If your day took a downward swing, what brought your pendulum back to equilibrium?

 

3 Comments

  1. Welcome to life outside of the US where everyone get excited when FedEx is 30 minutes late with a package or UPS is a day late. We, the non US residents have learned to take it in stride and life is a lot less stressful.
    Smell the roses in the morning and have a cup of herbal tea. Have a siesta in the afternoon and live healthier.

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