After a month

Trip Start Jun 28, 2007
Trip End Nov 16, 2007

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Flag of Liberia  ,
Friday, August 3, 2007

It has felt so good to start working and getting my hands dirty.  I've been working for the past three weeks here in Foya and we have completed the installation of filters in two villages and are building filters in another village.  I believe as of now we have 13 built and need to have 33.  I'll try to explain the process as simply and quickly as I can for those of you who are interested.  First we start out with the filter molds.  There are blue prints that show the design of the mold and there is a guy in Monrovia who can read the blue prints and has now built 7 or 8 molds for us to use.  In Foya we just got two more the other week giving us 4 molds total.  We spend one morning greasing the molds, putting them together and filling them with cement.  It takes a little over 24 hours for them to be dry enough to de-mold, so we come back the next afternoon and remove the filters from the molds.  After about a week of drying they are safe enough to install, so we take the filters to the homes and place them in whichever location the family wants them.  Sometimes it's on the porch, other times it's in a hallway/corridor, and sometimes they even want it in their bedroom.  We place the filter, level it, and then fill it with 1" gravel, pea size gravel, and then 21 inches of washed sand.  The family then must keep filling the filter for 24 hours until the water is safe enough for them to drink.  That's the basics.  I could go into more details if you want, but I'll write you an email.
The work also entails educating them on how to use the filter and on basic health and hygiene.  We also require each home that wants to receive a filter to construct a clothes line and dish rack, so they are not putting their drying clothes and dishes on the dirty ground.  It's also a way for us to determine if they a seriously interested in having safe water to drink or not.
It has really been quite an experience working in the remote villages every day.  I really enjoy it and wish we could spend more time with the people.  Everyone I've met has been so grateful for having any type of help.  SP does work in agriculture, helping villages start-up fish ponds, raising goats and sheep, cattle, and even rabbits; in ministry SP teaches beginner and advanced level training classes for pastors or really anyone that's interested, they show the "Jesus Film", and also do church reconstruction; HIV/Aids education; Skills Training and adult literacy classes; School feeding programs; Safe homes for women who were affected by the war; Road and bridge construction to reach extremely remote villages; and still a number of other things.
Life after work, here in Foya, is slow and quiet.  Well, somewhat quiet; we seem to be getting more chickens than we can kill and the roosters have taken up their crowing at 4:30am.  Almost every village gives us a chicken, which I hear is a huge thank you to us.  However I always feel bad taking the chicken, 1. Because I'm selfish and enjoy sleeping past 4:30, and 2. Because I feel like they need the chicken more than I do, but I was told that, to them they see it as they have more chickens than I do, which is true.
On July 26th, we had off work because it was Liberia's Independence Day.  Buddy, myself, and Keeley (a Canadian expat working in HIV/Aids education) decided to take a road trip to Mt. Walagizi.  The trip started with us three and one of the national staff members who wanted to go with us.  The morning we left, we had 6 in the vehicle.  Another staff member wanted to come along and we were told that we needed to take security with us.  Unfortunately, no one knew exactly how to get there, so our first stop was in the town of Voinjama, where we picked up another SP staff member who said he knew how to get to the mountain.  As we started out again, he soon informed us that he didn't know exactly how to get there but that he knew of someone that did.  So we stopped at some random village along the side of the road and our "direction man" got out and went to talk with some guys.  He came back with another guy who said he could get us there and so we added another to our adventure.  This man got us in sight of the mountain, but we had to stop at another village where we ended up picking up two more guides to take us to the base of the mountain and lead us on a hike through the rainforest.  So, altogether, we had now 10 people hiking up Mt. Walagizi.  And let me say that each of our new arrivals had already been excessively "celebrating" before we picked them us.  It was an interesting day to say the least.  Hiking up the mountain was awesome though.  We did not make it to the top, because it was a 3 hour hike up and it took us half the day to get to the place, but we did manage to hike to a sweet waterfall.
Well, that's about all I got for now.  I hope everyone's summer is going well.
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