Monday, October 27, 2008

Leaving Liberia, Part Two

The Importance of Leaving Well

Tis the end of October, we leave in three weeks plus, and still Renita and I are fully ensconced in Liberia. We like that. We wish we did not need to leave. The work here is so energizing-- and in a world so big that it is easy to wonder if one can make a difference, Liberia is a place that invites people to do just that.

We are not spending any time on thinking about leaving—we will begin that process next week, although some folks are already thanking us for our time here. No goodbyes yet, and I’m dreading those coming moments.

Mostly, we want to make sure we leave in the wisest, most healthy way possible. On that personal level of course, that means actually saying farewell to all the people who have touched us and allowed us into their world. But professionally, leaving well also means that we do our part to ensure that the work we helped start has the best chance for continuing. So we just do not have time for thinking about leaving. Here is what we are working on:

Regarding Renita’s work with LEAD
Lead is going strong as Renita continues to work with National Director Allen Gweh. We are thrilled that Karen Bulthuis, a volunteer from Partners Worldwide, has arrived to provide business and technical training as well as monitor LEAD's actual impact. This will provide continuity between Renita's work and the hoped for coming permanent staff in 2009.

Regarding my work with the Mother Patern BSW Program
The program is in its second year, running without a hitch and growing. There are now over 50 students in the program. In January, the professors from Calvin College with teach two courses in an "Interim" session. I hope to be able to fly back from the US to join them. Later in the year, Dr. Judi Meerman of Kuyper College will join the staff to help them prepare for their internship program, and perhaps lend a hand in the classroom.

Regarding Our “Together Work” with the Foster Town community
The community development organization in our area, FACT, is alive and working on more ways to improve this neighborhood. Currently, they are active in trying to establish a much needed adult education program as well as offering more workshops for their neighbors. They will be attending the upcoming multi agency conference below, and they are hoping to broaden their network.

Regarding the future of CRWRC/CRWM/PartnersWorldwide in Liberia
The Christian Reformed Church in North America is interested in discussing with potential partners the feasibility of initiating holistic collaborative efforts to empower Liberians. Working with Liberians in the field, CRCNA hopes to be able to offer support to Liberians across a broad spectrum of theme areas-- community, health, spiritual, economic, justice, governance, and in mental health. On Thursday, October 30, CRWRC-CRWM will be conducting a mini conference with selected potential partners to discuss the feasibility of various models of collaborative work in Liberia. Joel and Jeannie Huyser, long-time veterans of the Christian Reformed World Missions, will be joining us for five days, starting today. They are bringing a model of collaborative ministry and development work from Nicaragua. We've invited two large, very well known Liberian development NGO's-- the Christian Health Association of Liberia (CHAL), and the Association of Evangelicals in Liberia (AEL), as well as LEAD, Providence Baptist Church, and our own little Foster Town Association for Community Transformation (FACT).

Thus our current doings. We’ve got a few pictures of life around here taken within the last day or two, buthonestly, in all the hub-bub, we keep forgetting the camera.

Joel and Jeannie Huyser, just off the plane from Nicaragua via some time in Nigeria. This picture taken about two hours ago (2:00pm GMT Monday.)

Ok, this picture was not taken in the last couple days, but we wanted to get one of Renita and Karen Bulthuis, LEAD's new impact monitoring consultant. If we tried to get you a current shot of these two, it would be a blur.

As I said, some groups are already toasting our mutual friendship. Here is our local church saying "We love you" Sunday.

Both Renita and I got clothes out of the deal-- dress for her, shirt for me. A Liberian tradition.

Here's Yers Trooly delivering his last workshop in Liberia for at least a while. Here last week with ladies from various parishes on helping skills.

Sigh. how are we going to part with little Renita?

...and what are we gonna do with these three? Stay tuned...

Weather: Hot, mostly clear and bright in the day, with some late morning cloudiness as the sun heats up the Atlantic. The clouds clear and we are getting nice sunsets. Rains usually come late, around 1-2 in the morning for an hour or so. Day time temps in the lower 90s, evening lows in the upper 70s.