After twenty hours of flying and layovers, Steve and I made it to Monrovia, Liberia. There we were greeted by Emile and Jackson. Emile is the Director of the Liberia NGO Office, and Emile coordinated what we would do every day. We would spend many hours with both of them as they helped us gain perspective and context on their mission, and our experiences while in Liberia. We were housed at the Dignity Liberia’s patient and guest house. Every evening we would break bread with Emile and his son Ethan, and spent time reflecting on what we experienced that day. We also got to partake in bucket showers, what a memory. Since there was no water pressure, we had to fill a 50 gallon barrel with water and treat it with bleach, then use buckets to bathe, a memory I will never forget. We also only had electricity for a couple hours in the evening and morning, a true luxury in Liberia.
On our visit to the clinic we were able to see women who were suffering from fistula, but they were having their lives transformed by doctors and nurses working with Dignity Liberia and the clinic. I had very mixed feelings on what I saw at the clinic. I saw good work being done, and hope being given to women needing this life changing surgery, but they just simply needed more equipment and resources to keep up with the demand. Many of the rooms were empty because they need more beds and medical equipment. We met Dr. John Mulbah who is the main doctor at the clinic. It is easy to tell that Dr. Mulbah has a passion for helping and healing the women suffering from fistula. For these women to get healthy it is not only good news for them, it is good news for entire community. I was also very fortunate to visit the Lott Carey Baptist Mission School. Emile not only has his duties for Dignity Liberia, he is also the Superintendent/Principal of the school. Spending the day at the school was a very exciting and fun. We got to meet and play with the kids. The children would come up to me and ask questions about what it was like in the United States. One highlight of the trip was playing a big game of soccer on a field on the school grounds and just how small things like a game of soccer can bring the child out of all of us. Like the clinic, there are many more things that the school can’t do simply because they don’t have the money to make repairs and buy school supplies. According to Emile the American Christian organization that owns the school has cut back funding to the school. So many updates needed for the school cannot happen because of the lack of funding. However, that trip to the school helped me come to a decision about my future. For many years I was going back and forth on what I wanted to do as a career, and that trip to the school helped me come to the decision that I wanted to become a teacher.
Overall what struck me the most in my time in Liberia is the power of community. In Liberia, you need to have a community to survive, so you have no other option than to love and care for one another. I will always remember driving around in Monrovia and just seeing everyone in community in its purest form. People buying things in markets, kids playing soccer, or groups just talking in front of a shop. I believe in the United States we don’t have the depth of community that the Liberians have, and personally, I envy that.