Without much of an agenda on a Saturday, the day seemed to pass slowly. I had an unexpected visit from Rev. Weekie and Sengbey. The discussion started with an invitation to join them so I could be introduced at their LCL District meeting (9 parishes) just a walking distance away on the Phebe compound. The next topic, and I believe main, was to ask to pay for feeding the volunteers who are brushing the land. This is still bothersome to me because we have a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the Bishop that clearly states the community will brush the land, provide mud blocks, and supply all the sand needed for concrete…we’re just asking for land brushing! I told them I’d discuss it with board members and get back to them. My biggest concern isn’t so much standing by the letter of the agreement, but setting expectations for our ongoing relationship now without creating any precedence we wished weren’t there.
They departed for their meeting. I changed from shorts into the nice Liberian shirt given to me at St. Paul’s and walked down to the meeting where Rev. Moses Jeobor (District Dean) introduced me. I did another greeting on behalf of Pastor Schultz and the other board members, tried my Kpelle on them for some smiles, and presented the large signed card from the Life Water Sunday picnic. They were very enthusiastic and genuinely happy that I was attempting Kpelle. I went on my way so they could get on with their meeting and changed out of my already sweaty outfit.
I spent most of the morning going over expense receipts, taking a nap, revising construction drawings, taking a nap, going to Gbarnga for some supplies, taking a nap…and then new guests arrived. A group of five couples (some surgeons, mostly from Missouri area) that started an organization called Dignity:Liberia (www.dignityliberia.org) to support girls/women with fistula treatment both via surgeries and social integration. Two couples are staying at my guesthouse and invited me to join them for a beer and some dinner. The Liberians told them food was being delivered to their guesthouse…8:00pm and no food so they broke out tuna, crackers, spinach artichoke dip, and summer sausages which tasted great after all my rice meals. Some of the Liberian workers with the fistula support team joined us later and the discussion turned to Ebola. If you ask Liberians which was worse, living through the war or living through Ebola…they say Ebola. People became very quickly isolated and trauma would set in at the onset of just a headache, worrying that Ebola symptoms were happening. Families couldn’t touch their sick children. Pregnant woman had it worst because apparently the Ebola virus attacks much quicker and the maternal mortality rate was near 100%. Because of this, during triage pregnant women were put aside with essentially no care because the health workers didn’t want to spend a lot of time with a patient they knew would die. The fear was so great, women began giving birth to their children in the street because they wouldn’t get care in the hospital. Misinformation and fear developed regarding the “sprayers” (those workers in full protective garb with the chlorine solution) that they were actually spreading Ebola with the spray so many were turned away by angry villagers. The one man from the fistula support team said he started to get a fever one night and separated himself from his family. The fever persisted for a couple of days while he searched for a clinic that would test him for Ebola. He finally had to pay off a guard at a small clinic to let him in for a test — he was relieved to find out he had Typhoid! Imagine being happy that you have Typhoid.