Tuesday, my first full day in Africa, had many surprises. I worked all day, most of which was just e mailing family and friends on a very slow internet connection. Posted a couple blog posts (I write them and post them later). I did a little research into granting agencies and tried to work on some things for DEN-L but so far, no luck. The internet was just too slow.
There isn’t really any internet in the whole country, except a few internet cafes’ one in Gbarnga that’s private, and DEN-L itself. This isn’t a surprise for me or for most who have any ideas about African post-conflict states. But I didn’t realize how inconvenient it would be. And how important the internet really is for communicating, recording, researching, understanding, etc. Also, all of these blog posts have been written and saved so that I can post them now since the internet was done from the Tuesday I arrived, until today. I am so much a part of the internet generation that sometimes I can’t understand very basic words in Liberian English because they are pronounced differently to how I know they are spelled. Such as pie for pay.
The country is divided into counties. Schools and hospitals are paid for by taxes. Though there are private schools, have yet to hear about private clinics. There is economic disparity by region, much like the US. However, there is much much more extreme poverty. There are signs reminding people to practice “good hygiene.” This is in quotes because part of my thinks that people have survived here this long, why do they need a reminder. But there was the loss of life during the war, and more telling, the loss of culture and disjointed families. So maybe there do need to be reminders.
When I asked the Ministry of Health personnel at the workshop if they thought healthcare was a human right, they said, loudly, “Of course!” I told them about the US system, they told me about theirs. It is only 2 years old, and already there are monitors with 1000 page spreadsheets on their computer detailing each clinic, waiting to be able to gather the necessary data.