Monday, December 04, 2006

What does the President of Liberia, Gender Based Violence, A New Book, HIV-AIDS and a Monkey Have in Common?

UPDATED 12/11/06
They were all a part of a very busy Reed week. On Thursday, the Reeds were invited to attend a Presidential launching of a new effort to combat the significant gender based violence problem in the country. In partnership with several UN agencies, this effort will hopefully be a major step toward bringing peace and justice to the country.
At the launching, the President also announced a new book put together by my dear friends, Grace Boiwu, head of the Mother Patern College Women's Program, and Barbara Brillant, Dean of MPC. Grace and Sr. Barbara both spoke at the event.

On Friday, we all joined MPCHS as it celebrated World AIDS Day. School children from ten or so Catholic schools put on a great show, and the day ended with sports and games. We brought a few neighborhood kids along with us. It was inspiring to see these kids speaking out on the subject. 9 out of 10 kids with AIDS are in sub-Saharan Africa.

And the Monkey? She was a major part of our week. On Tuesday, some neighborboys brought a monkey—specifically a “white eyelid” mangabey (Cercocebus fuliginosusto) to us after their uncle delivered her to them from the interior. I had mixed feelings about taking her, but she apparently has been with people for a while and the boys did not want her. She quickly endeared herself to all of us. She is affectionate, responsive and playful. You ought to see her torment Nikki and Pinky.

As I say, I’m feeling ambivalent. On the one hand, the kids and dogs are crazy about her. They love playing with her—although one gets the feeling that actually she is toying with them and they are just trying to keep up. She appears completely in control, happy and adjusted. On the other hand, I have not fully fleshed out my position on the “primates as pets” issue. I’ve done some research and we are figuring out the most resposible course of action for her. We are leaning toward releasing her up country.
So how was your week? Finally, we are able to upload some pics. The internet has been very slow for a week. Here goes:
First stop, the Gender Violence meeting with President Sirleaf. These are the women from the MPCHS women's program, with the staff behind.
The President, sitting next to a UN official and our own Sr. Barbara Brillant.
Two pretty great women trying to rebuild a nation. Present Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Grace Boiwu, head of the women's program and the catalyst behind the book, One Pain Touches All.

Sr. Barbara, ever the opportunist, gets the President to sign some of the books. She'll sell 'em to the highest bidder.

Next day, the Reeds observed World AIDS Day with children from the Catholic Schools. A brass band leads 300 school children through the streets of Matadi, a Monrovian suburb.

The Reeds seated behind the Sisters of Charity (Mother Theresa's order), and the other organizers as the program begins.

Lots of traditional dancing...

...and songs about preventing HIV infection.

...along with some original poetry. All in all a great day.

Now on to the Mangabey. Say hi.

The lil' lady is a load o' laffs.

You haven't lived until you've been groomed by a monkey.