Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sand Mining

Things are looking up here in Liberia. Crime is down! I just got the latest weekly update from our friends at the UN. Because you all pay for the gathering of all these valuable statistics, I thought I would pass on one of these reports to you. This is for the country of Liberia which is about the size of the state of Virginia.

"Crime Situation: During the reporting period two (2) armed robbery cases reported, a reduction from five (5) recorded last week. Firearm was reportedly used in one (1) of these armed robberies. Meanwhile, the number of rape, corruption of minor and sexual abuse cases decreased to twelve (12) from fifteen (15) in the previous week. Four (4) homicide cases were reported, as against six (6) recorded last week and one (1) mob incident reported, as compared to three (3) reported in the previous week."

Also mentioned in the report was that a group from the Ministry of Lands and Mines (for a long time I thought it was the Ministry of Land Mines, because their signage was not clear, but they have a new sign now) was issuing a "cease and desist" order to sand miners near our village (they haul loads and loads of sand off the beach to mix with cement for construction). The sand miners got angry and went after the government officials with knives and machetes. Fortunately, locals from a nearby village intervened and help the Feds to back out without losing any of their extremities.

Sand mining is not very complex. A dump truck of yester year, comes down the road, blowing it's air horn. Young men from the villages come running, shovel in hand, and jump up in the back of the truck. They proceed to the beach and the truck backs up to the most accessible place to shovel sand. The young men line up around the perimeter of the truck and fill it with sand, one shovel full at a time. This has been going on for four years here. What used to be a real nice beach is now a very large hole.

One might think that the Dept. of Land and Mines finally stopped this practice because soon there will be no beach. But, no, the reason they stopped the beach mining is because during the rainy season, the sand trucks destroy the dirt road so badly. Just past us about two miles, there are holes in the road in which an SUV could disappear into and not to be seen again until the dry season.

This shutting down of the sand mining in our area has left many young adults males out of work. Since they have no money, some have turned to robbing their neighbors and beating up people smaller than them. Since they no longer have an occupation that tires them out, they roam the roads around here at night causing much concern from yours truly.

Sand mining may not be the most environmentally correct thing to do, but it does give some pocket money to the young men, keeps them busy, and the hard work causes them to sleep at night!


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Creative Spelling 101

I have come to understand that correct spelling is just not important to many people. This can make things interesting sometimes. Once, when we were picking up a child from a government ministry, we asked how to spell the child's last name. We were given several different spellings. When we asked which one was correct, we were informed they ALL were correct!
Recently, a taxi was spotted with "God's Define Favor" painted on it's bumper. There is a "No Traspassing" sign on some property up the road from us. In downtown Monrovia, a man on the sidewalk was selling some colorful alphabet posters. They were quite large and printed on a good, heavy quality paper. I was thinking about buying several for the village until I spotted the spelling errors. For example, next to the letter "S", there was a picture of a pair of brown loafers and the word SHOSE printed next to them. OK, skip the posters.


A local school teacher was teaching a lesson about birds and wrote "fellows" on the whiteboard. And she then proceeded to teach about feathers. Not knowing how to correctly spell the word feathers was certainly no deterrent to teaching about them!


"A Wachted Pot Never Boil" and "Don Worry" are painted on taxi bumpers. A large house has a "Be Where Bad Dogs" sign on the gate. A local business sells "Used Trucks & Equipmant" and yesterday we passed a store that had "Mattresses 4 SAEL". There is a "Car Seat Repairler" on Somalia Drive, and the "Best Quilty Tires Money Can Buy" are sold off Roberts Highway. On SKD Drive, there are "Bangelows and Appartments For Rent".


Downtown, a nicely painted sign announces "Insurance Agenyc." I think they were writing what they heard ("a-gen-cee") but they also knew that someplace there was supposed to be a "Y" in the word. Yes, I guess that "close" only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and spelling!

Wishing you a letter-perfect day!
Love, Babs