I’ve moved into our guesthouse and it’s stifling hot (no air movement) so it’s tough to sleep. I also can’t get internet…not sure the future of my blog unless I write while closer to Gbarnga. I’m in Monrovia now getting supplies so I’m having lunch at the Royal Hotel with internet access. And once again on my drive in I’ve been pulled over…my truck registration is expired. I was lucky to make a connection through my insurance agent for a guy in the Ministry of Transport that basically runs everything through the system and avoids the lines/bureaucracy for a small fee on the side. After about 2 hours I had my documents…imagine the time without an insider helping!?!
I’ve been busy with a variety of things. I finished the last package of epoxy floor coating in the guesthouse, had meetings with Sumo, bought miscellaneous sschool supplies, and built a cabinet. Yesterday I helped Sando celebrate her 34th birthday using a slice of pineapple with a candle in the middle as some kids sang happy birthday. As she has struggled with some health issues over the last months, it’s been interesting to see how one family’s life is a constant fluctuation between personal choices and external factors.
Sando’s next issue is that on Saturday they’re demolishing the house she’s renting a room in ($25/year) and she hasn’t found a place to live yet. The only option so far is a $10/month room which is beyond her financial means. Even though she’s now working as a teacher helper at our school, she would spend her entire wage on housing…1 step forward, 2 steps back.
As I mentioned, I started this blog entry during lunch. I’m working on it now as I sit stranded on the side of the road headed back. The alternator belt keeps jumping off the pulleys. We’ve borrowed a wrench from a nearby well-drilling company and removed the belt, however the nearest supply house only has belts for tractors and they don’t match our size. John 2 has a friend who came to assist and is now riding into Monrovia to get the correct belt. Meanwhile it’s 5:20pm and Eagle Electric had a pile of supplies waiting for us and they close at 6pm. The race is on for a successful and timely repair.
Ok…I lost the race. I’m sitting outside Eagle as they stack up my order and it’s after 6. Fortunately, Amin, the branch manager is very helpful and has asked a few if his men to stay late to load the truck when it arrives. John 2 just called and he’s on his way…pending traffic! Looks like a 10pm arrival in Gbarnga.
Let’s get on a positive topic. The carpenters have delivered the first 21 classroom chairs. They look good-and heavy duty-so they should serve the school well for many years (thanks to our Rotary grant we can afford to furnish our classes and the office!). Sumo told me he has given families a 2 week grace period to get all registration documents and payments and tomorrow is that deadline. Next week the student body will be fixed and each pupil will be assigned an permanent ID number. This will assist in good record keeping and in tracking students who are paired with monthly sponsors in the US. Early next week I’ll begin photographing students for their sponsors. (Visit our website to sponsor a child http://www.gbarngamission.org).
I met with Tumamee to begin planning a poultry farm on the campus. We had a great conversation and will be getting together Monday to visit a poultry facility he worked at as a student at Cuttington University as well as meeting at the field office of BRAC in Suakoko. (http://www.brac.net/liberia?view=page). BRAC has an initiative to help bolster poultry and livestock farming here so I’m hoping to either leverage their knowledge or tap into any freebies available to startups. By chance, I heard a radio announcement about their program yesterday afternoon.
We also began my experiment in biogas by completing the “digester” and filling it with manure and water (aka “poop soup”). I’m told it will take about a week for those little aerobic and anaerobic bacteria to get their acts together and start methane production. There are three men in the village who are very excited about the concept. I hope it works.