Kimmie's eJournal (archived)

November 24, 2008

Brussels, Belgium

I arrived to snow in Brussels and people walking around in fur coats with Chanel handbags buying Belgian chocolates.  It’s like I am floating in space between two worlds. As sadness over leaving the girls at Bromley threatens to overtake me while I spend seven hours in the Brussels airport, facing yet another eight-hour flight home (the last leg was 9 ½ hours) I need to add some levity… so this is what I have come up with:




“How to Drive in Liberia”

1.     (The most important rule) Blare your horn at every opportunity meeting a minimum quota of 100 times per 5 minutes.  Do not forget to alarm women with small babies walking on the side of the road, taxi cabs trying to merge into traffic, teenaged boys pushing hundreds of pounds of water in a wheelbarrow, trucks trying to turn around as if they have anywhere else to go (unless, of course, it is you who are trying to turn around in which case blow your horn back at the cars blowing their horn at you.)


2.     Blast the repeating BBC News on the radio until you have memorized each and every word of the day’s headlines



3.     Make sure your passengers are so hot that they can’t breathe, sweat is dripping from their skin and clothes so profusely that they need a bucket, they are turning a strange color of chartreuse and scarlet, they are bordering on losing their lunch and when, because of the engine heat, when they open the door, the 95 degree air feels like air conditioning


4.     Because of the new law, buckle seatbelts rapidly and only when approaching policemen


5.     When angry, drive 85 mph launching passengers to the moon when you encounter potholes


6.     Play “chicken” when passing


7.     Come as close as physically possible to motorcycles without actually hitting them.


8.     When truck won’t start, open hood and stare


9.     Do not turn truck off or it will not start


10. Have a constant, animated conversation with drivers around you as if they can actually hear you






1.     For Malaria: Scrape Pig Root, cut it into small pieces, put in water and let it sit.  It will drive the malaria away and also drive the cold from your back.


2.     Migraines: use the same process as above but soak in liquor instead of water


3.     Joloboh Leaf- (this is very bitter)- boil it, drink it and it will “run your stomach”


4.     For vomiting and diarrhea -Virginia Tree Leaves- chew them with palm kernel


5.     Chicken Pox and Measles- Pigeon Peal Leaf- pound it in mottle with white chalk and mold into a ball.  Rub on skin


6.     Typhoid- African Pineapple- wash it but don’t peel, cut, boil, drink the water it makes.




            African Pepper Sauce


“Grind the peppers, small onions and small garlic.  Put pot on the fire.  Add little oil.  Burn oil.  Add peppers and small-small water.  Let it fry good.  Put in seasoning cube.  Let it steam good to cook seeds with just small (a little bit) of fire.”



So, God IS great and before I left, with the help of a friend from the National Episcopal Church in New York, I was able to fund the garden for Bromley, purchase all the tools and seeds and pay to have the land cleared, the beds laid and the project supervised by our agricultural expert.  The garden will be used solely to feed the girls and they will help take care of it and learn a little about horticulture. They were so excited, especially when they saw the land actually being cleared.  It was happening and not just being discussed!


Also with a pledge from my church, St. James’ Episcopal Church, the palm harvesting and oil production will be initiated.  This will help generate a small amount of money for the school, which presently has a huge financial deficit. Michael will help oversee this project until I can return.


The piggery and poultry will also have to wait on the back burner until I return, but we are moving.  We are moving!


More good news…on the morning I was leaving Liberia, my friend’s father invited me to breakfast and named a professional who might be able to develop a master plan for Bromley free of charge.  He will have lunch with him this week.


Also…out of hundreds of people on my plane from Liberia to Brussels, I sat next to a lady who is a Bromley Alumnae.  She said this was her first time back to Liberia in 26 years and she wants to help with something but was so overwhelmed. She has volunteered to help me find alumnae and claims to know many in the states!


 She had fond memories of going to school at Bromley, telling stories of everything from baking their own bread, lining up for inspection in the morning then marching two by two to the “principal’s stairs” for the pledge of allegiance and the raising of the flag.  She talked of dances where a neighboring boys’ school was invited and how they had to remain a certain distance form the boys while dancing.  She also talked of the “kaka-kola” or the spirits at night.  This is apparently a word passed on by generations of students.  Rumor has it that Bromley was built on a cemetery, she said, so the word came from the footsteps followed by a scraping sound they heard at night.


We both agreed that it was no accident to be seated together (a “so-called-coincidence,” as Father John always says) and she assured me that she was still in touch and would help me reassemble the group.

So much good has been set into motion.  In one of my first eJounals, I said I felt like I had jumped into a river and was willing to be swept away.  My new enlightenment is that the waters take me to people I would never have met otherwise.  The waters surround me, sustain me and transport me on the journey God means for me to follow.

On my last day at Bromley, I sat with the girls, who all had long faces.  They played with my hair, held my hands and spoke of my return.  An extended good-bye ensued, lasting almost an hour, during which time I managed to keep it together.  Hawa, the little girl who said she cried for me every night, stayed away until I was about to get into the truck and then came running up to me, wrapped her little arms tightly around me and would not let go.  This last hug set free the oceans of tears that had been hovering under the surface.  I told them everything would be okay…getting better every day…and I assured them of my return, although I am not even sure how this will happen.  But it was a promise, so it must.

As the truck pulled away and I hung out the window, frantically waving back to all of those girls with tears streaming down their faces, I knew I would find a way.  The words “my calling” sound inconsequential.  The only significant truth is…these are the girls I love…and that is enough. 

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