Thursday, April 23, 2009


WARNING: The pictures you are about to see are pretty nasty! I've made them as small as possible, but if you want to see what Jiggers really are, click on the pictures to enlarge.

Today we went to an orphanage home to treat "Jigger feet". Jiggers, not to be confused with chiggers, live in the sand in Liberia. The tiny bug burrows into the skin, most commonly on the feet, and can be extremely painful. Let's just say, these things are disgusting!

We had the children soak their feet and scrub them with soap. Then, each child got a new pair of slippers. The children at this particular home have a really hard time with taking responsibility for their things. They are always barefoot or loosing their shoes. I decided to challenge them; we wrote their names on their slippers, and I told them I would come back in 3 weeks. If they can show me their slippers, even if they're cut or spoiled, then I will give them a pair of shoes. I also told them that any of us could stop by at anytime between now and then, and we'll be looking for slippers on everyone's feet. I'm really hoping that this method works, because we had kids in serious pain and tears today just from washing feet!
I realize that providing slippers is only a temporary step to prevention and if the kids aren't wearing their shoes then they will always have jiggers. We are researching the best way to get rid of the jiggers, and we've found some info on different insecticides that can be used to treat the sand. Mostly I hope that when Mother was sitting there watching her children scream, that she will take Jiggers more seriously, and really make an effort to make the children wear their shoes. I apologize for those of you who think this is gross, but the reality is that this is life for these children. I think I've given enough warning, so on to the nasty pictures.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Things We Do...

...when we spend the afternoon at Frances Gaskins.

Step #1: Enjoy the FG Beauty Parlor and get your hair done.
Step #2: Do the hokey-pokey carefully, so as not to lose any flowers.

Step #3: Read a good story with the new doo.

All in a day's work!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New Dog, Stolen Phone

I was a lazy blogger last week. So, time for a quick catch up.

We got a new dog...his name is Dude. We tried out a few options, but Dude stuck. He's still a puppy, so he jumps and licks alot. He's also already chewed through an electrical cord and the front door mat. Oh well.

In other news, my phone was stolen on Thursday. I ran after the guy for about an hour, but he got away. It was nuts! The man stole my phone out of the car when we were at one of our orphanage homes. I realized my phone was gone a few minutes later and so a caretaker, me and about 5 of the older boys all took off running. I'm sure it looked pretty funny...a white woman and some kiddos running through the neighborhood, in the hot afternoon sun, sweating to death! Everyone we passed looked confused, and as soon as they found out "the man who was running stole the white woman's phone", the most common response was "eh manh, maken dah wha womah run in dah hot sun."

I don't care about the phone (I have a bonassa--aka, the cheapest [Nokia] phone possible), I care about having my phone number, and losing my contacts. We've had a few phone calls from the man who most likely stole the phone, and now there's a woman answering, so she must have bought the phone from the thief? We've tried to arrange meetings at gas stations, but "Gerald" never showed up. I'll go to Cellcom tomorrow and hopefully get my number back! I'll keep you all updated.
That's really all of my stories for the week. The week went by fast...the last few weeks have flown by! A team arrived tonight, so that will shake things up this week...which is a good thing. Ok, I think that's all.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sapo National Park

[Laura (MSF), Andrew (ORR), me (ORR), John (TRC) and Debbie (ORR), about halfway into our 8 hour hike]
Last weekend, a group of us headed 11 hours outside of Monrovia to spend the weekend camping in Sapo National Park. We had heard alot about Sapo...untouched and protected rainforest, elephants and pygmy hippos...we wanted to see if for ourselves. You really can't find much online (or at the FDA office in Monrovia, for that matter) about Sapo. We spent about an hour in the FDA office, asking questions and finding out about all of the requirements in order to make a visit to the park. The man helping us made sure to tell us that we were responsible for our own transportation and we had to bring our own food and water, haha. And, it was $20 per person for the park enterance fee, which we opted to pay once we arrive at the park headquarters.
[The road to Jolly Town and a Upaka here if you're being chased by elephants]
We left on Friday around 4:30pm and drove 3 hours to Buchanan. We found a spot on the beach where we could drive the car right up on the sand and proceeded to gather firewood and enjoy the the night. We slept on the beach under palm trees and a million stars! We woke up around 5am, spotted a few dolphins playing in the waves and hit the road to Jolly Town, where the park headquarters is located. We arrived around 3pm, met with the warden and then went to meet the village chief and other town elders. It was pretty cool--meeting in the palava hut, explaining why we had come to their park, and asking for permission to be in the park. After the chief told us that their village was our home and that we were welcome anytime, we went back to HQ to pack up our gear and gobble down some hardboiled eggs that had cracked on the bumpy drive. And then the rains came. We let the rain pass over and then started the 45 minute hike toward the Sinoe River, which serves as the park boundary. After we were canoed across the river, we hiked another 30+ minutes to where we set up camp--a clearing called Michael's Camp.
[Our humble abode for the weekend--Michael's Camp]
On Sunday, we woke up at 6am and decided to leave everything at camp and just hike light for the day. We ended up hiking a total of 8 hours! About 5 hours into it, we reached the Sinoe River...we enjoyed taking a swim to cool off! We hiked another 3 hours back to camp, and by that time we were exausted! We made dinner, bathed in the creek and hung out under the tarp because it started to rain. We were so pooped that we were all in bed by 8:30!

[The Sinoe River was perfect for cooling off. My theory was: what you can't see (hippos, crocs, etc.) in the muddy water can't hurt you, right? And check out how HUGE that tree was compared to Junior!]
We woke up at 6am on Monday morning, packed up camp and hiked the hour and a half back to the park HQ. We were met by the warden, some rangers and some fried plantains. We cleaned up alittle, packed the car, and said goodbye to our Sapo friends. By about 9:30am, we were back on the road! We made it to Buchanan in time for dinner and then continued on home after that. After 22 hours of driving and over 12 miles of hiking, it was good to come home, eat some collard greens, get a cold shower and climb into bed! It was an awesome weekend, full of all kinds of adventure, and it was a great time with friends! We didn't see any elephants or hippos...only their tracks...but that's ok...there's always next time!

[The track of a bongo...a large animal that's "as big as your tent and taller than you"]
[We survived Sapo! Junior (our awesome guide who wore an Atlanta Braves/Delta shirt), Andrew, Solo (our canoe carrier), Laura, Alfonso (our awesome guide who can call duikers like nobody's business), John, me and Debbie]


I have NEVER seen the humidity below 70%. At one point, it was 39.2% but it would change as soon as I grabbed the camera. The past 2 days have felt glorious! Rainy season is on it's way!
[Don't let the man fool you. He's still frowning, but this weather is awesome!]

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Today's Easter. Easter in Liberia. Without my family, my home church and my mom's home cooking.

Why is it that we tend to forget the meaning of Easter? I know I do. Last Easter, I went to church, had lunch with my family and then boarded a plane to head to Liberia to serve with Orphan Relief and Rescue. How time flies! To look back on all that God has done, and all that He has shown me this past year! God is so stinkin' good!

It's been a really great day! Although I miss my family today, I've had a great day with my Liberia family. We made a huge meal...chicken, roasted potatoes, stuffing, rolls, deviled eggs, fudge cake with ice cream! We stuffed ourselves and played Catchphrase. We even got easter baskets--a piece of paper folded into a rectangle, containing a candy bar, really old jelly beans, starburst, cookies and a ripe plum! I momentarily left Liberia today...and I feel refreshed.

But as I stood by the pool, overlooking the Atlantic and watching the sun set, I couldn't help but think HE'S ALIVE! He's alive! And, I'm alive because He's alive! Even though we tend to forget what Easter is all about, I hope that you've found that moment today to reflect...and to realize that HE'S ALIVE!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Took a Trip to Mars Today

How crazy does this look? Today I visited an orphanage home that is literally built up out of the swamp. It seriously looks like you've landed on Mars or something! The people have dug up the mud that's under the water and piled it up to form 'solid' ground. The entire place reminds me of The Rescuers Down Under...just needs some trees and a crazy woman riding around in a motorboat. You might be asking how you get to take the monkey bridge! Hopefully you have good balance! Just another day's work in Liberia!