Friday, July 14, 2006

A Trip to the Up Country, then Wrap up and Goodbyes

By the time you get this, the visit is memory, but what a lovely memory it remains for those of us who hosted the delegation from Calvin and Kuyper Colleges. In four and a half days, we met with the staff of Mother Patern College over its proposed BSW curriculum, visited government and large agency chiefs, toured two communities-- one sub-urban and one in the interior, visited agricultural and women's empowerment programs (one in the same, it turns out), tasted Liberian food and night-life, and saw about as much of Liberia as one can see in the amount of time available.

The purpose of this visit was to introduce Liberia to a team of higher education professionals who are interested in how they might serve the country as it rebuilds. I think it went about as well as possible, and now the three colleges move on to figure out next steps. Will keep you informed.

Below is our Tuesday trip to one of Mother Patern's women's development programs. MPCHS works with trauma and gender-based violence survivors all over the country. At the Koons Town site, the women engage in a number of individual microbusiness projects, but all the women are involved in cassava farming. In addition, there are workshops on trauma healing and community peacebuilding. A few weeks ago, Renita was here conducting some personal and microbusiness budget classes.

On our way from Monrovia to the site. A fine bridge along the way.

A very typical stretch of Liberian road.

We finally get there and meet the women.

The team is introduced to some of the women particpating in the program. We were deeply impressed by their dedication and resolve.

After the intros are finished, we are off to the cassava farm. We were very fortunate the rains held off during this trip.

Amongst the Cassava. The leaves and the root are both used in a number of traditional dishes.

The MPCHS staff workers Sarah and JoAnn explaining the farming program to the Cheryl, Beryl and Judi.

A panorama of the cassava farm. All the planting and harvesting is done by the women.

Leaving the cassava farm, on the way to the central village. Yes, we made it over.

The village of Koons Town where all the women live and have set up their women's center.

The team heads back to Monrovia. Same bumps. same two hours, but this time it felt much bumpier-- a long day in the interior does that to me.

On Wednesday, the entire group meets to wrap up and discuss next steps-- then it was off to the airport for a long trip back to the states for the Calvin and Kuyper folks.