Tuesday, March 17, 2009

To Buchanan and Beyond!

(Here is one of the sweet little girls we are hoping will join us at Rafiki)
(This little boy made his own truck!  Pretty smart, isn't he?)

It has been a busy week!
We headed to Buchanan at four a.m. on Monday to meet with two local pastors at seven a.m. They rode with us all day, directing us to villages in the bush. We bounced along dirt roads surrounded by palm and coconut trees, bamboos groves,and dense undergrowth. It is beautiful country. Once in a while we would get a glimpse of a small farm, but mostly the land out there is undeveloped. We met with village leaders and a district commissioner, explaining our search for true orphans. By the end of the the trip, we had a letter from a Grandmother who is trying to raise a three year old grandson, and some good leads on a group of children in village deeper in the bush.

We returned back into Buchanan around two p.m, and transported seven children to the local Catholic hospital for physical exams. We had screened these children on our previous visit to Buchanan. Exams and lab work took a couple hours, so Dave went back into the bush with the pastors and a social worker to investigate six other children we also met last week. Once again, Grandma caring for grand kids! Life is difficult enough for an aging person in Liberia; toss parent less grand kids in the mix...well, it is too much!

After finishing with exams and delivering all children to the correct households, we had one more stop to make: a prospective mother interview. It was getting dark by then and the last part of the interview was done via flashlight. Back in the car and we jostled our way home for 2 1/2 hours. We staggered into our house at ten p.m. An exhausting day, but hopefully a productive one. Made some good contacts and furthered the process on a few possible new orphanage residents!

Tuesday was a regular day, as we attempted to catch on stuff that we neglected from the previous day (food service, gardening, maintenance, paperwork, etc.).

Wednesday was a holiday here in Liberia; Decoration Day, which is similar to our Memorial Day. The nationals go to cemeteries and clean up the family plots and decorate with wreaths and plants. It is a day to remember loved ones who have passed on. We were on duty, so for us it was a regular work day, which was good, as we were still behind because of our Marathon Monday!

Thursday, we went into town rather abruptly at 9:30 a.m. when Dave received a phone call about a meeting that would begin at 10:00 a.m. for all those interested in the new social welfare policy manual. This document has been under construction for three years, and this was the public unveiling. It seemed a good opportunity to meet some social workers that we have been trying to touch bases with for a few days, so we headed into Monrovia. We arrived just before coffee break. Perfect timing! We made the contacts we needed, had coffee and a hard boiled egg, listened to a lecture and slipped out at one p.m.

Unfortunately, at our next stop, things did not go as smoothly. We dropped into the office of the airlines where we are purchasing tickets for a flight later this year. Seems there was a problem with the credit card process, and our credit card company denied payment halfway through the transaction. We are glad that VISA is diligent about watching transactions, and coming out of Africa, they are especially vigilant. But it took two hours and three calls to the fraud division in the U.S. before we could get things resolved. That was an ordeal! We are sure that the girls in the airline office are still wondering why those cranky people did not leave and try again another day, but it did not seem prudent to leave the office when we had only paid for half a ticket!

Today is Friday. Once again, we are trying to catch up on stuff we did not get done yesterday, as we were in Monrovia all day. We are looking forward to the weekend. Saturday, we will work around the orphanage and Sunday after church, we will attend our first Liberian wedding. One of our guards is getting hitched! We are curious to see what that celebration will be like. We will take pictures and fill you in on local wedding customs when we write next week!

Hoping your day is productive,
Dave & Babs