Rosie and Ruth immediately began telling us of Liberia, the war, the re-building efforts, the ways the country has changed over the past 10 years, but especially the last 2 years. Only a few years ago, she felt unsafe driving this road. Now they were so thankful for the new road the Chinese are building. Many people walked along the main road- carrying baskets on their heads, children running barefoot playing with sticks
. Everyone seemed to be outside their houses. We drove by 3 groups of older boys playing soccer on a dirt field. I wished I could plant grass for them. There were several "villages" on the side of the road which consisted of 8-10 bamboo mat houses. It looked like communal living. Many began living in these villages for safety during the war since they were closer to U.N. barracks. The Liberian government is encouraging the transplants to move back to their former villages but many have grown accustomed to their temporary homes in the city. It is difficult to start over, you must have resources to build and services are non-existant outside of the city. We drove by U.S. lead training barracks where many young men were gathered. Most of them formerly fought in the war and must learn to fight for justice now. There are signs of rebuilding mixed with destruction from the war. One building that was intended for government use has been half finished for 30 years. The war halted construction. Bishop Cox was proud of their newly built football (soccer) stadium and we stoped by a new gas station built by the French. There are several countries present here as part of the rebuilding process. We are told that Liberians welcome this because they are tired of war. Ruth boasted of the country's beauty and the friendliness of the people. Dawn asked what Liberians thought of Americans and Rosie said they feel like the "little brother" of the U.S. and Fidesco (our security gaurd) felt like they "owe everything to U.S.". We saw U.S. flags painted on many buildings. The USAID and Mercy ships have a presence here and Akon is coming tomorrow night. They have not had a celebrity come during war years so this is very exciting to the people here.
The Monrovia airport was small and crowded. We had 6 huge suitcases and getting them through the people was difficult. Outside the airport we were greeted by Bishop Cox, Pastor Kotee and son and two other staff members of Rock Children Services, Ruth and Lucida. We were approached by several men "offering" more like forcing to help us with luggage. I was glad to be with people we knew and see the U.N. guards outside the airport. Many people were standing around outside the airport, maybe just to see who was coming into the country. Children were barefoot, selling homemade candy. We loaded our luggage into 2 cars and began the drive to our hotel in Monrovia.