Our small Team Liberia has had its moments of disillusion around our dinner table in the Baptist Compound, but we have tried to keep our frustrations to ourselves. Most Liberians I know have little time for them. Our friends, colleagues and casual acquaintances – not a representative sample I know – are always ready to share a joke about "this is Liberia" and display a healthy skepticism of government and other authorities; but they are also cautiously optimistic. Anyone asking "How can you live like this?" would deserve a terse reply: "You should have seen it 5 years ago."
Government posters tell us "the process is on", but actions speak louder than words. Actions like those of our driver Ernest, pictured above with his family, who is building a house complete with zinc roof (the zinc is very important). Actions like my friends from the Ministry and CARI, some of whom are pictured below, who are preparing to leave Monrovia and reclaim their old offices in Suakoko where 15 years ago Charles Taylor trained his boys. Actions like those of Sampson, a friend from Buchanan who is travelling through villages that were depopulated only a few years ago, selling anti-malarials and antibiotics that might just keep a few more children alive.
The confidence of Liberians goes beyond their deep religious faith. I have not encountered the fatalism that I found so prevalent in (peaceful, stable) Tanzania. Nor have I met anyone who wanted to emigrate like in (peaceful, stable) Cuba. Many Liberians have emigrated or fled in the past and now want to stay put. I am writing this in Senegal, along with Nigeria one of the main sources of the thousands of young Africans who die from drowning or dehydration trying to get to Europe overland. I have never heard of a Liberian taking this route.
It has been a tremendous privilege to witness the rebirth of a nation at close quarters. I hope that future visitors to Liberia will be able to see beyond the grim statistics and experience the lighter side.