Kimmie's eJournal (archived)

November 19, 2008

Bromley Mission School, Liberia


I am writing from Bromley as I have spent the past weekend there celebrating the school’s 103rd Birthday!  Maggie Johnson, the person who first brought me to Liberia, her home, arrived a few days before and we gave out all the student and teacher goodie bags.  Everyone was elated to receive the gifts, especially all the hair bows.  Thank you everyone who contributed!  They have already written a thank you note that I will bring back with me.

Saturday, a neighboring high school, B.W. Harris, in Monrovia, came for a “baseball” game (played with a kickball and no bats,) and Bromley conquered 16 to 10.  The girls also played volleyball and there was African music blasting all day, even during the game.

I got a little sunburned or a “sun rash” as the girls called it as I sat outside with them, so thrilled to see them having fun, laughing, dancing…not a typical scene at all.  The Bromley Board provided a picnic of hotdogs (Liberian style served cold with a BBQ sauce,) biscuits and cookies.  I stayed late into the evening like that stubborn party guest who just won’t go home, but I just didn’t want to leave them. 

This is the hard part.  As I drove home that night, knowing I would be leaving within the week, I felt the sadness seeping in, like a cloth thrown on a spill, feeling heavier with every mile of dirt road trailing out between us.

Sunday, they had mass and Monday, November 17, Bromley’s actual birthday, they had a talent show and then a dance.  Michael was the D.J. and I was mesmerized by the rhythm they all possessed.  Even the four year-olds could put any American to shame on the dance floor.  Soon faces were dripping with sweat and clothes could have been wrung out, but they never fatigued.  They rocked the house until the last song, still begging for more.

At one point, I stepped outside to catch the river breeze and was followed, as usual by a little knot of girls.  They all sat with me on the step, eating avocados from a tree on the property that is ripe with them.  They also braided my hair and, wow! Was that so much cooler!  I wish I could have it done everyday.

Also big news: yesterday Nets for Life finally came to Bromley, educated the girls on Malaria prevention and distributed 120 insecticide treated nets to all the boarding students.  This was a very exciting day indeed, one that will potentially save many  lives.  Not one of the students at Bromley has not either had or known someone who had, or died from, Malaria.  Now every student has a net to hang over her bed.  Many thanks to Minnie, Wloti and the entire Liberian Nets for Life team!

Today, Maggie, Michael, Juanita and I are going to Bromley to celebrate all the November and December birthdays, a tradition started by Maggie several years ago.  She is bringing cake, which is a huge treat for the girls.

As much as I miss my friends and family at home, I am really struggling with leaving all of my 187 “play daughters” at Bromley. As some of you know, the girls often ask someone to be their “play mother,” which is a guardian angel of sorts.  I think they put much more weight into the title than we think they do.  As Rev. Mary said, in Africa, words are sacred.

 Driving past all the decrepit buildings, the homes with walls of woven reeds and roofs of scrap trash weighted down with rocks, all sights that horrified me when I first came to Liberia, I started thinking that one could adjust to this life.  I have become accustomed to no electricity, running water, TV, internet, AC.  I have adjusted o a deficiency of simple pleasures like turning the tap and being able to drink the water or brush your teeth, flipping a switch any time you want in order to get light, instead of stuffing every available socket with various camera, cell phone and computer batteries when the generator comes on well after dark.

Perhaps I am just romanticizing the situation, but I don’t think so.  I have been interviewing the students for a video presentation and when they express their ambitions and their feelings of privilege to be receiving even this restricted education and when I look into those faces so full of hope, as if  we (all of us who have spent time or given financial assistance here) could actually save them, then I know....yes, one…I… could adjust, even find joy, through the hearts of the children in Africa.

Maybe someday.  As they say in Liberia, “By God’s grace.”

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