“How do you solve a problem like Maria?!”
Anyone that knows Maria will have heard at least one of her many random anecdotes. From becoming a millionaire for a day in Korea, to playing the harp for the president of Ireland she’s definitely got a story for every occasion. Well today we had the privilege of witnessing one of these stories come to life before our very eyes.
Yesterday we met some members of the Millennium Stars, a Liberian football team, who visited the UK in 1999 on a three week tour. Maria told them that she remembered their visit. It turns out she was at the Knights of St Columba in Middlesbrough when they visited. The goalie, Nusee, (who’s name Maria swore was very familiar) came back to see us today and took us for a walking tour of the 12th street community where he lives.
It was definitely off the beaten track – Nusee told us it was impossible to get a car by his house and we witnessed this as we stepped over breeze blocks and walked down sandy tracks on the way to his house. Washing lines were strung across our path, children played everywhere in the streets (including some kids who were playing a very complex looking game involving a ball and a flip flop), ladies sat outside their houses doing each others hair and we were greeted by lots of stares and even more waves of hello from rather perplexed looking children. One small girl even screamed in fear for her mummy at her first glimpse of white people! It made a change to be shown round by a real Liberian and not a fake one from Consett! (Ged considers himself to be Liberian!)
At Nusee’s house, he introduced us to his mother and got out his photo album from the ’99 tour. Tom opened the first page, gave it a quick glance and went to turn it over, before Maria and Becca spotted someone who looked vaguely familiar. The picture was of a confident Liberian footballer talking to three star struck young fans. One of them was a much younger (but still very recognisable) Maria. No one could have summed it up better than Nusee’s mother – “You’ve still got the same small face!” Although this is her first trip to Liberia, Maria’s face has been known here for twelve years.
In our next update we’ll let you know all about our leaking fingers and our new found Scottish heritage!