As previously mentioned, Wednesday is market day. I stopped at Deanville on my to Gbarnga and found a very full truck load of cassava greens, water greens and women awaiting
their Foton taxi to haul them to market. It takes two women to hoist the pan of greens into the truck, yet when they arrive at the market side street, each women is loaded with a single pan onto their heads. I’d guess they weigh almost 40-50 pounds since all the greens are wet after being washed earlier in the morning. After dropping off my happy non-paying taxi patrons, I went shopping for supplies including brooms and mops to keep the solar panels and pump houses clean. I also needed to hit the bank…the dreaded bank!
It took me about 1 hour of standing in line OUTSIDE the bank, just to enter…then another 3 hours INSIDE in a seated/moving line before I reached the teller. It’s a maddening system of watching people that know somebody cutting in front of those without credentials, not knowing which line leads to which teller (one teller does US dollar transactions, another does Liberian dollar transactions, while two other windows are just for MoneyGram and Western Union funds). New people show up and hover near the teller windows hoping to not be noticed as they slip in ahead, causing the crowd of “waiters” to turn on the “cutters”. Here’s a photo at about 3 hours into the 4 hour ordeal. You’ll see yellow and green plastic lawn chairs lined up facing a TV screen playing a series of poorly acted, no name, thriller and action films. If you look at the man on the left in the yellow hat and shirt…he’s gazing longingly at the teller windows yet he’s actually at the END of the line…I’m sitting two rows away ahead of him. No wonder commerce and development are at a stand still (or rather sit still).
The bright spot of the entire experience happened within the first five minutes of my arrival at 9:30am. Standing ahead of me in the line outside was a man with whom I struck up a conversation – knowing the wait would be long it’s at least fun to talk with someone new. I found out he’s from Forkellah (home town of Nyekeh Forkpa). I told him I’d been there and knew Nyekeh and it turns out that he’s Nyekeh’s cousin, Moore Tumamee, that just graduated from Cuttington University with a BS degree in
Agriculture. He’s been very successful with his own farming endeavors including paying for his four children to attend private schools, paying his own tuition at Cuttington, and building his own house. The best crop he sells is lettuce, which he has driven to distributor customers in Monrovia, earning $780USD greenbacks from just one harvest of this leafy green goodness. An excellent tip for our GROW women! I mentioned about our desire to start poultry farming and he was very excited given his education that included animal husbandry. I took his info with the hope of evaluating him as a leader in our future poultry project. There had to be something positive after 4 hours of the banking blues.
When I finally returned to our school, it was nearly 2:00pm and I hadn’t eaten lunch – and had lost interest in doing so. I climbed the water tower and repaired the two leaking fittings, hoping they were permanent fixes so I wouldn’t have to patch a patch. Electricity is so much easier…if you do something wrong you either get electrocuted or the building burns down. With plumbing, it’s the incessant drip, drip, drip that will send you to the coo coo house.
My former guesthouse mate, Bruce Moilan, from Global Health Ministries arrived for his stay through New Years. He has a lot of connections with Phebe and is already shaking things up trying to get the water and plumbing improved at our guesthouse. He’s replaced the broken refrigerator and larger chest freezer that had both been fried by people plugging them into the wrong voltage outlets (the guesthouse has a mix of 110V and 220V but the receptacles look identical). He’s planning to make a phone call with me tomorrow to someone at Global Health to see about getting some items shipped for our school…not sure what yet but they’ve furnished schools and provided solar in the past. Since our current grant in process with Rotary is for furnishing our classrooms, perhaps we can get in on the solar side of it.