Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The saga begins...

 Liberia is an absolute wonderland. I feel like even just the past three weeks that I have been here felt like so much longer, and my experiences have been absolutely life-changing. I have so many stories I could tell: from the painful and overwhelming slaps of reality while witnessing harsh poverty and orphans in an unsanitary children’s burn center, to the awe-inspiring displays of resilience of the human spirit, to the joys of being hugged so tight by 100 children bursting with love. 

The first day I was able to meet most of my students was magical!

I have had the honor of hearing first-hand some life stories that would make even the most popular action movie look tame, I have danced all night with some of the most loving strangers I have ever met in my life, I have held my breath and held on for dear life while riding a motorbike through unimaginable traffic, and I have experienced pure joy while being able to set foot on the continent of my dreams.

Walking home with Fiona and a group of neighborhood kids.

And this all just scratches the surface of the adventures that I have had while in Liberia. It’s insane the number of experiences that I have been able to have all within the short span that I have been here. I have gotten to know so many people and made memories that I know will be with me for my lifetime.

Eating with your hands is a true bonding experience, and so fun! I love communal meals.

 It’s also interesting; I was warned before I arrived here that being in Liberia and coming into contact with so many things that were out of my ordinary would shatter previously held beliefs and opinions, and would make me question things that I came to this country feeling rather solid about. It would give me things to think about that I had never considered previously… For both the good and the bad… and I definitely feel that way. I have already have been thinking about things in ways that I have never really thought about before… But those thoughts are for another day. Back to Liberia.

This is the road going out of our neighborhood.

I plan to use this blog as a way for me to express my feelings, vent out my thoughts, and share with you some of the inner workings and struggles that arise while spending a year here. I feel that spending a year abroad in a country that most people know nothing about is an opportunity that would be selfishly wasted if it wasn’t shared.

I am taking it as my duty to share all of my experiences-- the good, the bad, and the ugly-- as a means of giving others a more realistic view about life in Liberia.

This blog is about education and honest, open self-expression. While my accounts are indeed personal, they are also a way to help you, my reader, relate to a place that is utterly unknown to many others. I am taking responsibility to spread the word about what it is like living in a post-war society—this is a way for others to reflect on things that they may not have otherwise thought about, and a way to understand the way of life of SO MANY other people that are living on the very same planet. I want to shatter the negative, sweeping stereotypes of Africa and bring light to the reality of what is really happening in my corner of sub-Saharan Africa.

A lesson happening in our current After School Program.

I hope this experience is an eye-opening adventure for you, just as it will be (and is!) for me.

Some things I hope to cover in this blog: 
    1.Liberian culture
     2.My work with More Than Me
     3.New thoughts and difficult feelings
      (And, of course,)
     4.Amusing anecdotes in general

Sound good like strawberry cheesecake?!

Yes. I did find it in Monrovia.
What a glorious day it was!

For now, I will leave you with one last fun tidbit. I have chosen the name Ubuntu Warrior for my blog. I feel it most accurately portrays what it is I hope to achieve.
Ubuntu: 'I am what I am because of who we all are’
More specifically: “
Ubuntu is a Nguni word which has no direct translation into English, but is used to describe a particular African worldview in which people can only find fulfillment through interacting with other people. Thus is represents a spirit of kinship across both race and creed which united mankind to a common purpose.”  (Thanks for that quick and easy explanation, About.com! ;D)

 Warrior: Fairly common term. A fighter.
More specifically: More Than Me introduced me to the idea of a warrior: somebody who fights, tirelessly, for a cause. No superpowers, just the sheer will and commitment to conquer small battles, day after day, in passionate pursuit for what matters most to them. The key here is doing what you need to do, for what is most important to you, EVERY. DAY. The battle is not won overnight, but is rather, a journey. 

That is me. The Ubuntu Warrior. Someone fighting the good fight through love and dedication to unite the world and bring compassion to my fellow mankind, especially those who may need a little extra help. I can't do it alone though. We all need each other. We can’t excel as a world, as humanity, if social injustice exists. If there are people who aren’t able to embrace their full potential, I will do all I can to make it right. 

And so begins my story.

Stick around, and come back soon. My first REAL blog post will be coming up shortly.

Peace, love, and cookies,

Or rather,