I’m writing this post using a keyboard I’ve connected to my phone while I sit in my friend’s outdoor electronics repair shop in Kakata, Liberia. Obligatory selfie:
IT IS SO GOOD TO BE BACK!
As soon as I got off the plane and took my first breath of the heavy tropical air I was struck by how much I feel at home here now.
We still had to wash our hands and get our temperature taken after getting off the plane and before entering the airport, but the fear and the tense atmosphere was gone… Instead, I found the easygoing friendliness that I will always associate with the people here.
It is such a wonderful thing to be able to shake a person’s hand and not let go. And to have extended eye contact while smiling and laughing together as you ask about their family and health. Oh, to see old friends again! It’s food for my soul.
This is the Liberia I remember!
And the freedom I feel here! I can go anywhere, and I don’t have an organization to report to. It’s the same feeling I’ve had the couple times I’ve gone on hitchhiking adventures in the states… the feeling that I can go anywhere and take the time to connect with anyone along the way.
I’ve been here almost a week and a half now — I arrived on the 11th, and my friends at Samaritan’s Purse graciously let me stay with them while I got my bearings and visited friends in the area.
Samaritan’s Purse is no longer doing Ebola relief, now that the epidemic has passed. They’ve transitioned to development programs (their area of work before, but all new projects). But it was exciting to see some of the systems and tools that I made during my time there not only still being used, but extended and improved. I’m so happy to have been able to have made a positive and sustainable contribution! In this kind of work it is such a challenge to build things that continue to work after you leave.
Last week I also spent a few days in Marshall, my old Peace Corps site. There’s a new volunteer there now — Peace Corps is starting up again! I’ll give that visit a post of its own 🙂
If you remember back to last April, I said my plan was to come here and start working with a Liberian friend of mine who repairs electronics. That is still the plan! I’ll give more details as I go, but for now here’s some pictures of where I’m living and working.
Our outdoor office:
Close up on the TV being repaired:
The house we live in is right next door:
Here’s my room, right before I moved in:
As I said in the April post, my goal is to be able to become self sustaining here, without outside financial support. By jumping in with just my own saved money, I’m hoping I will be able to find a closer sense of partnership with the people that I’m working with.
That said, if you want to help contribute to the costs associated with staying in touch with all of you and documenting my experience here, I would definitely appreciate your help there. I can use that extra income to buy the bandwidth to keep this blog running, back up the pictures I take, upload videos, and make calls to the states.
If you’re interested in supporting me in this way, check out my Patreon for more information. Even just a dollar a month makes a big difference!
Thank you all for your continued love and support!