At the Rehabilitation Center in Phebe, he got a kick out of the children who were living there. He showed them how to blow bubbles but because they couldn’t get the hang of getting the soap on the bubble ring, he dipped the wand into the solution and then held it up for the children. One sassy little girl didn’t want to pause for the other children to blow their bubbles, so he had to make her wait her turn.
One day the group decided to take an afternoon off during one of the rare sunny days. They went to a nearby beach to sun and swim where there was a group of fishermen with their boats gathered on the beach. Dr. Joe Span, M.D., who had had previously volunteered to help combat the Ebola crisis in Liberia 2014 (chronicled in his book Letters from Liberia: The Adventures of an Ebola Medical Volunteer) was on this particular trip.
“Dr. Joe” walked over and started talking to the fishermen about going out for a fishing trip one day. A few were interested but then he learned that what they call fishing is just dragging nets around and not pole fishing. A man came up to him and offered to sell him two large fish he had caught that morning. At the same time, another fisherman approached with three fish that he offered to sell to him. Dr. Joe ended up buying all of the fish that even included fish cleaning in the price. He was able to grill a very delicious fish dinner that evening back at the guesthouse.
As he was leaving with the fish, he noticed an usual looking boat amongst the others...it was a dugout canoe! He had heard about them on his previous trip to Liberia during the Ebola epidemic but had never seen one up close. He asked if he could take a ride in the boat but the owner was gone for the day and told him to return the next day.
The following day, Brendan, Jake Dickinson, and Dr. Joe returned to the fishermen's camp. They began their trek to the beach on foot, but ended up accepting a ride from a couple of Europeans. Dr. Joe negotiated a price for a dugout canoe ride…$20 for half an hour.
It was overcast, very windy, and the ocean chop was rough but they went out with just a single man paddling. They went off shore probably a mile and it was, admittedly, scary at times with the ocean swells occasionally coming over the sides of the canoe, but they made it home safely.
Quite a crowd of villagers had assembled on shore when they returned to see the three crazy "white men" out in the canoe. Dr. Joe passed out some toys to the children that his brother (who works for Mattel) had given him precipitating a near riot.
I asked Brendan if he would go back. He said he would, if he had the money. While it is highly unlikely that you would take a canoe ride, going to Liberia is a life-changing experience. Please get in touch if you are interested in going on our spring 2018 trip as a Dignity Advocate.