Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Just Do It

Since coming to Liberia, I have learned to do all sorts of how to treat malaria, and what to do for typhoid. I know what the symptoms are for worms and what medicine works for "runny tummy". Countless band aids, children's Tylenol tablets, and stickers have been dispensed. I can make a cake from scratch to feed eighty people. I know what a bitterball looks like, and have learned how to negotiate the best price on a wheelbarrow full of coconuts. Chopping okra, peeling mangoes, slicing pineapples are second nature. I can spot a rotten fish at twenty paces and I no longer panic when faced with a whole carton of spoiled eggs.

Rats in the kitchen? Ha! I scoff at rats! (Not really; I HATE rats.) Do snakes make me run scared? Ha! Well, actually, yes they do. But I do not scream near as loud as I once did. That has to count for something.

Washcloths have been transformed into cute little bibs. Size two underwear has been made SMALLER. Multiple dresses for Christmas gifts have been sewn, bath towels cut and hemmed into hand towels, and the sleeves sliced off dozens of long sleeved shirts. (What were we thinking when we bought that bundle of used clothes from Canada? Of course they wear only long sleeve shirts in Canada! Duh.) Angel costumes have been created for the heavenly host and shepherd tunics sewn for the Christmas pageant. Sunday slacks have been altered and numerous wore-out pants have become play shorts. I have sewn curtains, valances, tablecloths, aprons, bathmats, and hundreds of napkins. No. Really. I know that I sometimes am prone to a little exaggeration, but I do mean HUNDREDS of napkins.

I have glued the soles back on countless shoes (Let's hear it for Gorilla Glue!). Coloring books have been made, preschool workbooks created for newly arrived children, and a zillion Christmas presents wrapped. (OK, maybe a little exaggeration there!). I have supervised the painting of wood birdhouses, the making of bead necklaces, and the construction of many Mother's Day Cards. Special bookmarks have been decorated and laminated. Give these kids some glue, crayons, glitter, paint, markers, and they are ready to go to town.

 Many batches of play dough have been mixed in the kitchen, and dress-up clothes have been mended and washed repeatedly. When the kids made self-portraits using clay, our oven looked like a crematorium for several days as we dried out the little clay bodies ("I see dead people.") 

Are you aware that there is a whole website dedicated to crafts using toilet paper rolls? And we have made many of them? Well, think about it...with sixty eight children living on the compound, that equals A LOT of toilet paper, so this is one resource we have! We have made TP roll Christmas wreaths, TP roll garlands, and TP roll people and animals. We did a whole art show featuring scenes from The Wizard of Oz using toilet paper roll characters of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man. It turned out great and was fun!

And now there is one more thing to add to my resume: "makes alterations to raincoats". Unable to find enough children's raincoats in the market, we purchased several adult coats out of desperation, and made them "thinner" and shortened the sleeves. Ta-Da! They are not perfect, but they do keep the rain off, and that was the goal.

 It is amazing how creative one can be out of necessity; what one can do when there is no other option. You just do. And amazingly, things usually turn out OK. Wishing you a great day of doing!