“Out of the freezer and into the frying pan”, a indictment from Father Lionel, Chair of the Technical high school run by Don Bosco in Monrovia – the only ‘lion’ in Liberia, or so he called himself. Josh, Vicky and I felt that this is the best way to describe the climate change that has hit us since arriving at Roberts International at 5am this morning! Said heat is truly sapping, making even typing this blog a strain on the brain. However, we feel we must share with you the warm welcome that we have experienced so far.
After a couple of hours’ broken sleep, what better sound to awake to than a choir singing morning adoration at the Lutheran Guest House, which is our residence until Friday February 17. This set the tone for the day as we went on to meet a wonderful range of people, mostly dressed in red to mark the celebration of St Valentine’s Day. As Sharon at Don Bosco Homes put it, “after all the hatred, we’re at last embracing love”.
Sharon’s positivity was reflected also in Father Jose as we had a brief meeting in the Don Bosco High School. He described being alone at the school in the midst of conflict in 1992, confronted by armed soldiers and declaring “you will kill me before I see you destroy this school”. The school still stands proudly as a beacon of hope and a sign of Liberia’s resilience and hope for the future against its war-torn past. We left listening to the sound of children’s laughter as they enjoy this legacy that is being left by Don Bosco.
Today was a whirlwind of introductions and insights, and we are now inspired by this introduction to the work of DBH, and, after a motivational meeting with Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (who we’ll be working with at the end of this week) on their various projects and purpose, are excited about what lies ahead.
We finished the day with a hot spicy curry, and a special treat as we were joined by Christian of the Liberian football team, the Millennium Stars. Christian and his team visited the UK in 1999 on a three-week tour, and today Christian is as passionate as ever about the power of sport in bringing people together, and particularly the role sport has played post-conflict; the spirit of unity created by football. We’re now heading off to bed with Christian’s words of his vision of Liberia shining brightly in our minds.
So that was a taster of Day 1. Goodnight. On to the next slice of Liberia tomorrow!
Check out how sport and peace work together in our Olympic Activities>>> http://www.cafod.org.uk/extra/passiton/olympicactivities.html
Josh and Clare