When we took the left the paved road ended abruptly. The throng of vendors and people milling about thinned and the green of long grass and leafy trees took over. The range rover spit out the occasional gust of black exhaust and kicked up red dust obscuring the view from the rear as we bumped and bounced into the bush at 30km/h.

The rear, where I was perched precariously on padded bench facing the row of side windows that framed more greenery and more trees, allowed an expansive view in all direction. The occasional cluster of homes, random goats resting in the road or darting between trees, placid pools of water with a single coral pink lily floating against the surface, and of course the requisite UNMIL facility complete with traffic calmers (as if the winding dirt road weren’t enough) and barbed wire perimiters.

I, and three Liberian Africare staff, were headed to Gbalatuah, site of one of the 14 clinics in Bong county run by Africare. We were headed in to assess the progress they’ve made since the last national accreditation and to prepare for the next one in about two months. It was also an opportunity for me to see the situation in the more rural areas- accessible only by sprawling pitted dirt roads and four-wheel drive.

The facility was small and sparse but seemed to house the essentials: an obstetrics set-up, dispensary, vaccines, and a dressing table for any wounds. It wasn’t glamorous, but as we ran down a list of evaluation questions, most of the answers were an impressive yes.

After working through some paperwork and the pleasantries of our exit I was also given my Kpella name, Nyeculo- the bright one (as in color…it seems the “high yella” tag follows me wherever I go!). laughter cloaked us as we headed back to site.

Our hurry was for naught as we learned the funders we were meeting that early evening were late. Two meetings behind! But I lingered, despite my stomach’s protests (having only ingested a roll at that point), eager to hear what they had to say about the work being done and the work needed.

The 4pm meeting turned into 6pm meeting and wrapped up after 7pm…late by local standards of dinner time. So the group decided to motor the loooooonnngggg seven or eight miles to Gbarnga for a meal. And over goat soup, fried greens, smoked fish, and rice we mused about our travels, work in Liberia, rugby and the world cup – all the while bobbing our heads to what appeared to be MTV Africa blasting good music in the background.

There is promise in this place…I see it stripping away bit by bit…a shoulder exposed here and a bit of leg over there. It’s ok, I can wait.

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1 Comment on late night in the big city (kinda)

  1. Chizoma says:

    I’m so excited for you to have this experience – and for me to get to read about it! Your voice rings true and strong through your writing. Thanks for bringing us all along! Go well…

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