Liberian eJournal from Kimmie, 2010

I am in Liberia again for my ninth trip in what has now been three years. Walking down the airplane stairs, though exhausted from the long journey here, I inhaled the damp, dusty smell from a recent rain and the somehow not unpleasant sweaty smells that greet you in the customs line, and I was exuberant.  Perhaps it is smell association and not the actual smells, that remind me so much of a place and people I love.  Of home.


As we sped along the dark road leading away from the airport, we almost slammed into what I later deduced to be “traffic cones” but to the untrained eye, looked like clumps of tall grass, (root ball and all) in front of a disabled vehicle- an instant reminder that we assuredly were not in Kansas anymore.


Waking the next day to the sounds of the village outside of my window coming to life- to roosters crowing, children screeching, birds chattering, I peeked outside of my curtains.  I observed a women passing with a bunch of potato greens on her head and another woman brushing her teeth beside the tall corn.  Neither of these would have been particularly remarkable except that I had never seen this much produce planted in this location, which has become very familiar to me over the years.  I could feel the energy of renewal.  I smiled at the lush squash leaves thriving in the tropical environment, at the people sitting and talking to one another, at the thrill and honor of being able to share this experience with friends from home, perhaps even in the camaraderie that Liberians and Americans share, both striving to connect with both known friends and new.  There is solidarity in connection.


For those of you who have read my previous eJournals, this one will be a little different.  I am traveling with a group of friends, including my daughter, Gabrielle Haeringer, 19, who is a second year Global Justice major at James Madison University, Scott Dwyer, 27,  a Senior Research Specialist in the division of pediatric respiratory medicine at the University of Virginia,  Mike Davis, 28, a Senior Research Respiratory Therapist and Coordinator also for the Hunt Lab at UVA, and Dr. John Hunt, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Allergy, Immunology and Pulminology at the University of Virginia.  I will let them tell their stories…

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