Friday, August 3, 2012

It's been a crazy week since I returned home from Liberia and despite my plans, I have not had time to sit down and share more stories here yet.  I promise I will get them added- just be patient please!  In the meantime, I thought I would share some photos.
This is a man outside the "Furniture Factory".  Everywhere that a product is made or processed is called a factory.  They even have a "Cow Factory" which is really the slaughtering area!

The Coca-Cola bottling plant outside of Monrovia.

I found this small "store" outside of Careysville on our way to Firestone one day.  I had to chuckle!

This is the rubber plantation at Firestone.  It is the largest rubber plantation in the world at just over 7 million acres!  The rubber is collected in small cups that hang on the trees much like maple syrup is collected.

This is all that remains of the once great Hotel Africa which was a five star hotel in Monrovia.

This is one of the older filling stations.  The man in the background is dipping the one gallon jars into a larger container that are filled withe gasoline.  The man in the front then uses a funnel to pour the contents of the glass jars into your gas tank!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

This story was told in the Kru dialect by a dear woman named Annie.  Here is the story she is telling:

Turtle was a hunter.  He carried dogs to hunt for animals.
So one day while Turtle was out hunting, his wife delivered.  So they said, "The father is out hunting.  We need to go and call him."
Somebody decided to go and when he got there, he couldn't see Turtle.  He decided to yell, "Mr. Turtle, Mr. Turtle, you are out hunting and your wife delivered."
Turtle replied, "Oh! I heard that but the dogs that I brought to hunt went into the cave of rocks and I am trying to crack the rocks to get the dogs out. So I will tell you the name of the child so you can give to the child.  The name is to be Tapaneema."
They replied, "Yes, yes!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Now the work begins

I have returned to the United States (this is my 10 hour layover at JFK) and being a true geek, I have found a charging station and paid for internet so that I can catch up with all of the happenings that have taken place while I have been out of country.
Now the real work begins as I start to translate and transcribe the stories and edit the videos to prepare to post them on this blog.  I was able to collect stories in English as well as at least 3 dialects and from over many parts of Liberia.

It was a fascinating trip full of friends, food and great conversations.  The best part of this has been living in the community and learning so much about Liberian culture!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

This has been a busy week.  In true Liberian style, as I am preparing to return home in a few days, people have been coming to share their stories.  They tend to wait until time is running low before completing tasks!  This week I have been fortunate to be able to collect stories in both English and regional dialects that I will post when I return to an area with faster internet service.  Here we have only a dial-up speed service which makes loading photos and video nearly impossible.
The story below is from a local Physician’s assistant who is a longtime friend named Dennis.  It tells the story of a mouse who borrows money from a beaver with the promise to pay him back when Mouse gets big!
Also this week, we took my nephew Sawsee to the hospital with a fever of 105F.  They found he was suffering from malaria which is quite common here.  He stayed in the hospital for two days receiving an IV drip of medication.  While malaria is relatively common here, it is frightening to see it occur in such a young child.
I need to get busy as I have two more storytellers arriving late this afternoon to add to my growing collection!

“Trust Betrayed- The Story of Mouse and Beaver”
            Once upon a time, Mr. Mouse went and carried away some money (for) from a beaver.  So, you know mouse doesn’t get big.  He will always remain tiny, tiny.  So he went for this money, he told Beaver, “So look, in taking this money, when I get big, I will pay you.  Right now I have little problem in the home.  My whole family is sick and I need money.”  He was crying at the same time asking for this money.
            So Beaver agree to give the money.  He took the money he gave.
            After certain years, Beaver started looking for his money because he couldn’t get it.  Then he decided to pay a visit in the home.  So each time Beaver was going for his money and Mouse got this information, he would hide all his family because all of them the same size.  None of them big; all of them small in body.
            So Beaver used to go for this money up and down- can’t get the money be he always passing Mr. Crab in the town when going for the money.
            While passing for the second time, Mr. Crab asked him, “But Mr. Beaver, what reason for passing all the time?”
He answered, “One little boy in the town, he carried my money and he said when he gets big, he will pay my money.”
Crab said,” Who is that boy?”
He said, “The mouse.”
He said, Oh! But Mr. Beaver, don’t you know these people, they don’t get big?”  But go and ask for the Ma, the Pa, I mean, whosoever there.  Say I want to leave the money but I want to see all your family to tell then the good I have done for you.”
He said, “Ok.”  So he went that say.  When he look, Mouse came from the bush and started acting like a baby.  You know they are very tiny, tiny.
So Beaver said, “I have the mind to need the money.  Because of your size, you are small.  I know you don’t have it.  You have it when you get big but you never get big.  But what I want you to do please tell your Ma, father, everybody to come so I can tell them the good I have done for you.”
And he was so happy that he go call the family.  He invited his Ma, his pa- everybody looked alike.  So Mr. Beaver say, “You will pay my money today!  You know you don’t get big- but you fool me!”
He sat there for long, long.  “So, Mr. Beaver, who really told you this thing?  I know that Mr. Crab said this thing because you were passing through town.”
Beaver said, “Yeah.”
He said, “But Mr. Beaver the money I took of yours, I took the money I know but when I came, Crab got serious problem in his home.  I took the money, I gave it to him.  That box on his back?”  (You know the shell?)  He said, “There he put the money.  I not able to find a way to take it off so that the embarrassing part that I been facing.  Let me tell you the secret now since you won’t leave me in trouble.”
Mr. Beaver got vexed.  That is why when he see Crab he get rid the back, to get his money back from there.
So that’s what happened between the two of them.  Because he ran his mouth, he got in trouble with him.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I have now collected nearly a dozen stories.  There are more people coming this week.  My favorite has been about how people came to worship idols.  Here is an abridged version:

How People Came to Worship Idols
A man & his wife lived in a village.  The man was a fisherman and went out to the river fishing.  One day he caught an idol.  The idol told the man to create an instrument and play it.  While the man played, the idol would dance.   If the man tired first, the idol would kill him but if the idol tired first, the man could kill him.  So they began and after a few hours the man grew tired and the idol killed the man.
In the meantime, the man’s wife gave birth to a son.  When the son was five years old, he began to fish just as his father had done.  His mother begged him not to fish at the river because that was where his father had been killed.  But the son made a pole and began to fish the river.  After several years, the boy caught an idol just as his father had done.  Again the spirit said that they had entered into an agreement and taught the boy to build an instrument and begin playing.  After a few hours the idol began to get tired but the boy continued to play.  The spirit decided to force the boy to stop playing so he sneezed.  When he sneezed, dust blew up into the boy’s face but he continued to play and the smoke went away.  Then he sneezed again and the rain came and it rained very heavy but the boy still played and the rain went away.  Then the spirit sneezed again and saw a blaze of fire coming at the boy but he still played.  At last the spirit got very tired and he fell to the ground just moving his arms and his legs but the boy said, you are still dancing and he kept playing.  Then the spirit could only just move one arm and leg but the boy said you are still dancing and he kept playing.  Finally the spirit just lay on the ground exhausted and not moving. 
The boy cut off the spirit’s head and placed it in a box.  Then soon after, the boy began to have dreams and the spirit would say this will happen, and it did.  Then he would have another dream and the spirit would say this will happen, and it did.  Until after some time of this, the people began worshipping the idol.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Things have started to pick up with my story collecting as things are winding down after the two weeks of funeral activities.  I have several people from various areas in Liberia who are willing to sit and tell me stories.  I collected my first last night from a physician's assistant named Dennis.  It was a story about how people first came to worship idols.  He will be back tonight and I am sure will have more stories for me.  Another man from the northern border of Liberia will be here later this week to share his stories with me.  I am excited to hear how they differ from the stories in the southern area where my step-father and his friends are from.
I have also spent the last week learning a lot about Liberian culture. Today I had my hair plaited and learned to do laundry.  Laundry here takes all morning and is a grueling event.  I washed half the amount that Patient washed in the same time and hers was far drier before hanging out on the line!  You start with a tub the size of a baby pool and rub each item with bar laundry soap.  You then scrub one side of each item against the others.  A quick rinse in the wash water and then they are placed in the rinse bucket.  Clean water is poured over the top and they are wrung out before hanging on the line.  I have taken many pictures but I am unable to upload them due to very slow internet connection.  I am continuing to work on posting even a few. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's here!

My Visa has arrived so I am ready to go! Many thanks to Visahq for helping make this a very smooth and easy process!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Visa has been sent!

My Visa has been completed and picked up! According to FedEx, it is scheduled to be delivered by Friday! In less than 2 weeks, I will be in Liberia!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Almost time!

I have packed the first of my two suitcases and am getting ready to start filling the second! I have so many things that I am carrying over for friends and family that I am beginning to wonder if anything for me will fit in the suitcase! I am so excited! My Visa has been processed and should arrive by the end of this week. My shots are up to date and my electronics have all been labeled. I fly to JFK on Tuesday, July 3 and after a 90 minute layover depart for Accra. My flight leaves at 8:50pm and I arrive in Accra at 11:30 am on July 4. I am not sure exactly how long the flight will take but I am sure that sitting for so long will be VERY difficult for me! I have downloaded several books for my Kindle app onto my tablet and just purchased a new package of mechanical pencils and variety puzzle book. Let's hope it is enough to keep this ADD girl busy! I have many visits scheduled to collect folk tales and will post pictures as frequently as I can! Check back in as the time gets closer!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Titer test results

Well, I just received a call from my doctor's office with my titer test results. My vaccination for mumps is not up to date so I will need to go in and get a new Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine this coming week! Oh the fun never ends!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What's left to do

It's been awhile since I posted an update and I apologize for that! With the end of the school year, things have been hectic to say the least! Here's an update of what has been accomplished and what is still on the to-do list: Completed: All the electronics have been purchased and I have taken some time to get used to how they work and the best ways to share my trip with everyone! All of my shots are completed and up-to-date. That is a big relief as I was worrying about taking care of everything! I have gotten photos taken and sent off my Visa application. My school nurse had me get a titer test. This will check to be sure that all of my American vaccinations (the ones you get when you start elementary school) are still working. The results should be in later this week. I have even had time to ship over some supplies over ahead of my arrival! I still need to do some prep work before I collect stories so that I will be ready to find the common themes when I return to the states. I am anxiously watching the counter and am getting very excited!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Start the Countdown!

I received an e-mail from Tracy at Travel Hut and have my flight details! I will arrive at Robertsfield in Liberia on the morning of July 4. Then I will arrive back at O'hare on the 24th! It will be an exciting three weeks and I am really excited.
Now I am starting to gather the electronic equipment that I will need to take with me. I am busy learning about video cameras, microphone set-ups and laptops. There are so many options and choices!
It is also time to start planning what I will share with the teachers that I will be training. Teaching them about technology is out since they don't have electricity or the funds for equipment so all the training I have been doing with my corporation won't work. Time to go back to the basics!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

An Exciting Day!

My check from Lily came today! I still can't believe it!
I rushed to First Trust Credit Union and Dawn set up my Rainy Day travel account! She made everything so easy for me! Thanks, Dawn! You rock!
Then we got a call from Tracy Opat at Travel Hut who is setting up the tickets for me. The final arrangements will be made Monday so I will have exact travel dates!
If you are interested in going on the trip with me, send me an email and I will get you more information about travel.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


It is time to start thinking about the vaccinations that I will need before traveling to Liberia. MD Travel Health recommends:

All travelers should visit either their personal physician or a travel health clinic 4-8 weeks before departure.

Malaria medications

Hepatitis A - Recommended for all travelers

Typhoid - Recommended for all travelers

Yellow fever - Required for all travelers greater than one year of age

Polio - One-time booster recommended for any adult traveler who completed the childhood series but never had polio vaccine as an adult

Hepatitis B - Recommended for all travelers

Rabies - For travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, or at high risk for animal bites, or involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats

Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) - Two doses recommended for all travelers born after 1956, if not previously given

Tetanus-diphtheria - Revaccination recommended every 10 years

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Big news!

"Congratulations! It gives me great pleasure to inform you that your proposal was selected for funding under the 2012 Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program."
Today begins a 16 month journey that I am very much excited about!
My proposal is to travel to Liberia, collect local folk tales and bring them home to be transcribed. I hope to share the stories with my students so that they can compare them to stories with which they are already familiar.
While in Liberia I also plan to meet with some of the local teachers for a short teacher training session. I am excited to reconnect with family and friends and to enjoy the culture!
I plan to leave in early July and stay approximately two weeks. If you are interested in joining this great experience, please feel free to contact me for details!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Greetings from Liberia,
We are already working and planning for your trip to be a very special time.

For the nurses: We have arranged for you to work at the Women's and Children's free clinic/hospital
They have a malnutrition unit/ICU/labor and delivery(most are by C section because midwives deliver normal births) and surgery for other types of pregnancy related needs.
We also hope to have it arranged for you to work in a regular communiy clinic in the neighborhood.
For the teachers: We are arranging for a free teacher training workshop to be held in a new school(to be dedicated on March 3rd) and open to any interested teachers. It would be good to have some sort of idea about what you want to do and we will give them a certificate of completition for their resume.
What to bring:
Capri pants, slacks, jeans are all acceptable attire except for church. then you need a dress with cap sleeves, sandals are appropriate for dress as well. The local attire has changed alot in the past 10 years. Nurses, you may want to bring some whites with you. I know they wear them in the hospital but may allow you just to wear scrubs which would still be very comfortable. Same with shoes - comfort is the key. Lots of stairs and concrete floors.
A water bottle is a necessity, I like the Rubbermaid ones with the screw on cap and flip top lid. They don't spill and are still easy to use. "Bottled water" can be purchased in the bottles but it is almost $1.00 per bottle. However, we purchase bagged water packaged in plastic bags and the transfer it to our water bottles. A plastic bag of "bottled water" sells for about 10 cents.
You will need a current passport and a visa to enter the country. You can go on the Liberian Embassy website nd complete the visa form to send in. It generally only takes a couple of weeks but allow a month to be on the safe side.
We will have beds, bedding, mosquito nets and towels for you here. So you don't have to worry about weight on those.
You may want to include; Insect repellant (I like the towelettes really well)
After bite itch relief - you will get bitten by something - even ants.
Lots of patience - things do not move quickly here in Liberia.

YOu will be staying with us in our home in one of the communities in Monrovia called Barnersville.
It is a very typical environment and you will be right in the middle of the community. The homes around us are varied from woven mats, corregated tin, dirt block and concrete block. They people are very friendly and will enjoy practicing their English with you. Tell them when you don't understand them and ask them to do the same. I still have o do that with Timothy at times. Your ear will get tuned to them before long.

More to come, and we await your time with us.