Healthy Soul

My first week in Harper

Being able to walk to work has been a long standing wish of mine. This week I’ve lived it, and am enjoying it. Not only am I walking to work, but I’m going home for lunch daily. A cooked lunch, all organic and no prepackaged ingredients, and that’s because I’m living on the campus of Tubman University. The residences are a stone’s throw away from the academic complex and the administrative building.

Administrative building, William V. S. Tubman University, Harper, Maryland County, Republic of Liberia.

Administrative building, William V. S. Tubman University, Harper, Maryland County, Republic of Liberia.

 

When I step away from the issues of rolling electricity (the residences have electricity at night and the academic complex has it during the day), the inconsistencies of internet access (sometimes the signal will only allow me to get to my inbox but not open an email message), and running water that is in sync with the electricity (for the pump to work) I’ve decided it could be a good life.

The fresh fish and seafood are caught by descendants of the Fante (from Ghana), Fulani (from Guinea) and Kru (indigenous Liberians believed to have migrated from Ghana). They all live in villages right on the Atlantic Ocean.

The fresh fish and seafood are caught by descendants of the Fante (from Ghana), Fulani (from Guinea) and Kru (indigenous Liberians believed to have migrated from Ghana). They all live in villages right on the Atlantic Ocean.

Freshly caught fish and clams directly off the fishing canoes come into the market every evening about 3p.m. and for about LD$ 20.00 (less than US$0.50) I can get about one dozen clams. Fish is not weighed, so, instead of pounds of fish they string several together and sell by the strings. A string of four or five medium sized fish is sold for LD$200.00 (about US$3.00).

Fresh fish is fried dry or used in the greens. The leaves from the sweet potato or cassava are pulverized using a mortar and pestle then combined with the fish for a stew or delicious soup - with lots of pepper.

Fresh fish is fried dry or used in the greens. The leaves from the sweet potato or cassava are pulverized using a mortar and pestle then combined with the fish for a stew or delicious soup - with lots of pepper.

A super bonus is having a person who comes daily to wash, clean, and cook. This treat will cost me US$60.00 each month. Minimum wage is LD$15 per hour for an eight hour day, five days per week. As my colleague from San Francisco explains the local people see us (faculty and staff) as being “rich” therefore selfish with our money if we do not hire someone to take care of us (they call themselves nurses), especially with about 70% unemployment in this region. So as meager as US$60.00 per month seems, we are paying our “nurses” on par with what the government pays its principals.

Victoria, mom of 18-month old Jerome, takes care of me and my home. I'll ask for her recipe for potato greens and share in an upcoming blog.

Victoria, mom of 18-month old Jerome, takes care of me and my home. I'll ask for her recipe for potato greens and share in an upcoming blog.

The campus is beautiful, sprawling on more than 294 acres. A full load of 18 credits with fees, room and board is about US$250.00 per semester. While that figure might seem like free for a student in the USA, paying each semester’s bill creates a lot of angst for students and their families here in Liberia.

My new living space comes with a bed, table, two stools, a chair, a full kitchen and bathroom. All furniture here is hand-made and made to order. I have ordered a five shelf book case for US$75.00 and a dresser with drawers and mirror for US$150.00. My colleagues say I'm paying too much.

My new living space comes with a bed, table, two stools, a chair, a full kitchen and bathroom. All furniture here is hand-made and made to order. I have ordered a five shelf book case for US$75.00 and a dresser with drawers and mirror for US$150.00. My colleagues say I'm paying too much.

Feeling generous? Care to sponsor a TU student? Let me know and the Financial Aid office will gladly make a match.

 

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for your updates and I am very happy with how well you are adjusting to the new environment. Also, I hope that Victoria will take very good care of you, but don’t allow her to spoil you. :)
    A quick look at the socio-economic strata, should one assume that only the privilege elite can afford tuition at Tubman? Please send me details on TU financial aid program.

    David

    • Dear David – it is such a special treat to have a hot meal at lunch time and then come home to a spotless apartment, clothes folded (not always put away), and another hot meal. I could get accustomed to this life style.

      About 90% of the students at Tubman are on scholarship. Thanks for asking – I’ll send the details on the TU financial aid program to you in another email message.

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