A Brief History Lesson on Liberia

As I settle into my new country I have so many feelings to unpack. First off one should understand life here in Liberia. For much of the country power is limited and runs off of generators. Gasoline prices are a deciding factor on running power. There is no running water in most of the country. Parts of Monrovia have both power and water, but not much. Monrovia is a huge city, not in land mass but in population. The city had an influx of displaced people during the war.


Before the civil war, Liberia was close to Ghana in development. There were paved roads, power to most big cities, running water and sewer systems. War is an ugly beast. It destroys not only infrastructure but it can destroy the spirit of the people. The rebels destroyed everything during the war. You can still see the evidence of the water tower from my host home. I asked about it, very sad. Talking about the war still opens old wounds.


The paved roads were dug up in sections by the rebels. This prevented motorized travel either direction. If you have not done so watch “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”. It is a powerful documentary of the scars of war and the power of the human spirit.


On top of watching a documentary, listening to real people’s stories is heart breaking. It brings the reality of war to life. Knowing the struggles puts into perspective why this country seems so undeveloped.


The education system seems to be the focal point at this time. It makes sense. You have a huge gap in the education of the next generation. You have no one to teach future generations. I am inspired by the stories and the sheer determination of Liberia. Instead of losing hope they maintained their spirit.


Last week we had our naming ceremony. My host “ma” was in Monrovia, so her cousin named me. Actually “ma” picked my name, the cousin just gave it to me. My name is Munah, which is Kru for my own. Somehow my “ma” seems to like me very much.



Next week we have a weekend in Monrovia, which sounds like fun. The week after we start model school. Model school is where we are assigned a grade and subject to teach real students for three weeks. I have 12th grade and I will be teaching Biology. I got excited about the subject of Human Ecology, which is basically an intro to Environmental Science. I had planned my curriculum out and built my first lesson very quickly yesterday.


I am also thrilled to be given the highest class, but it may be more about my age than my abilities. I am the oldest volunteer. I did hear that the stronger your personal education and experience the higher the grade level they have you teach, but this is only a rumor. It may be because I have more education and experience or it could be because I most likely will be seen as a leader due to my age. Either way I hope to succeed.


This weekend, I plan on cooking and shopping for the first time. I am hoping for cabbage with onions and garlic sauteed lightly in olive oil. Maybe I will find potatoes as well. I am very excited about this. I hope Madeline likes it, since “Ma” will be in Monrovia, I think. I still have a hard time following what she says. I suspect she is speaking in Kru instead of Liberain English, because it sounds nothing like anything I have heard in classes.



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