Skip To Main Content
Dr. Miller's Africa Trip-Day 10

Dr. Miller's Liberia, Africa Blog

Day 10, June 11, 2024

Gasoline, Currency, The Maintenance Department, G.W. Gibson High School, Report Cards & Bulletin Boards, Wulki Farm 

Today was a truly beautiful day in Liberia!  Today was one of the days I had been really excited about as we were traveling to Mrs. Toe's Alma Mater-G.W. Gibson High School!  We started our day as usual, with Amos picking us up.  We needed to get some gasoline in the car.  Gas is very expensive in Liberia and you can purchase it in some interesting ways.  First, you can go to the pump and get gas like we do in America with one exception, you do NOT pump it yourself.  There is always an attendant there to pump your gas.  Today we were lucky enough to receive some gas coupons from Mrs. Toe's friend, Papa.  These are hard to come by in Liberia and are certainly welcome.  Sometimes when people know you are traveling for humanitarian purposes, they might give you such a coupon.  As I have posted before, traveling in Liberia takes a lot of time and therefore, you use a lot of gas.  Most people do not "Fill up," as we do in America but might be looking to get to a certain level of gas on the fuel gauge.  Amos showed me that while he turns off the car to get gas, he leaves the battery/radio on so he can watch the gauge move so he knows exactly where he wants the gauge to be.  Interestingly, I have never done this myself in all of my years of driving.  I simply turn the car off and pump my gas and then see where the gauge is when I turn the car back on.  Here is a clip of us watching the fuel gauge go up. Additionally, there are plenty of people alongside the road who sell gas in jars or jugs.  Typically, these are sold in gallon containers.  The motorcycles and kekeh, can purchase here since their vehicles require less fuel.  I find that I am always fascinated as we drive around because EVERYWHERE you look, there are people selling things along the road.  Liberia has just a few places to shop like Shop And Go which is a smaller version of our supermarkets but things are very expensive inside.  Things like Bounty paper towels, solo cups, and sturdier paper plates cost about $3-5 dollars more than in the U.S.  On the street or along the road, you can purchase things much cheaper.  It's kind of like every street has its own Central Market.  Whenever I travel, I always like to bring back some paper and coin money from the country I visit.  I was lucky to get some paper change in bills at the store and Amos brought me some coins.  The picture that I posted here shows 170 Liberian dollars.  In American money, that translates to just 88 cents!  To make a 100 U.S. dollars, you would have to get $19,400.00 Liberian dollars.  Liberians have famous presidents on their bills like we do in America.  When we arrived at MCSS Headquarters this morning to load up our boxes for G.W. Gibson High School, I started a conversation with the district maintenance crew.  These guys are doing important work for the school district such as maintaining their vehicles, schools, and security for the district offices at MCSS.  On the days we travel to the headquarters, there is always much excitement and people moving about.  Some of the men talk about "The American," but I usually only hear whispers.  Today, they were curious and asked me many questions about my work here with Mrs. Toe.  They were genuinely thrilled that I came all the way from America to help their schools.  I could see the pride they had in their jobs.  This reminded me of our own maintenance crew at Central York, who also take great pride in keeping things maintained and repaired.  We talked for about 15 minutes and then I gave them each a York Peppermint Patty which has been my trademark candy to give out to everyone's delight.  If you ever go to an African country, take items such as this as they are a real treasure for the people.  I brought about 500 with me and I should have brought more!  Next, it was on to G.W. Gibson High School to see Mrs. Toe's Alma Mater.  I could tell in the car how excited she was to go to her former school!  When we arrived, students came to unload the boxes and I thought that was very special that the children were doing that job.  G.W. Gibson is in need of a great many things like the other schools, but they do have things like a science lab, computer lab, and a huge open space for eating and getting together, much like our all-purpose rooms in our schools.  We took some pictures with the students and Mrs. Toe had some spirited and lively words for the students as she shared her story of being a little girl and attending G.W. Gibson before going to America.  I could see the pride in her eyes to return and bring important materials and resources to her former community.  I could also see the pride in the students as they thought about their own circumstances and perhaps one day moving on and being in a position in life to give back.  We then took a tour of the school with school officials and their two guidance counselors.  Mrs. Toe was absolutely thrilled to see a desktop computer in the registrar's office that she brought on her last trip to Liberia.  The registrar said what a blessing the device was in order to help keep track of the students.  It's important for people to see and understand that our donations matter.  These are items and donations that are directly used by those who they were intended for.  I took some pictures at the High School to show some of their worn-out furniture and how they collect rainwater using a spout and a large barrel due to there being no plumbing.  The computer lab held some older used machines.  I am learning that internet is often very spotty and the power strips on the floor need more current to them in order to power up all the machines.  Typically, 3-4 students sit around a computer to learn.  Each time I share that all 5,800 of our Central Students have their own devices for learning, the people cannot believe it.  I hope that by sharing these experiences, none of us will ever again take for granted all that we have.  Now that I have been in several schools, my eyes are looking at other things such as bulletins, schedules, and other documents that are posted.  I posted some for you here including what a report card looks like.  One of the bulletin board posts pictured here describes a training this Thursday.  That training will proudly be led by yours truly and all the teachers in the entire district are invited to attend.  I am excited to help share some of my knowledge of leading schools with the teachers and administrators of Liberia.  After we left G.W. Gibson, we made another quick stop at Newport Junior High/Central Monrovia Senior High School and delivered books there.  Our day ended a little early so Mrs. Toe asked Amos to please take us to a special location called Wulki Farm.  This stop reminded me a little of Hershey Gardens/Zoo.  We saw animals walking freely around and some in pens.  There is a beautiful home at the top of the hill.  The man who created the farm lives there.  There is a large swimming pool, playground area, golf course, and even a radio station.  This is a location that Mrs. Toe has taken her own children to enjoy.  We enjoyed spending some time there before it was time to go back to the hotel.  Mrs. Toe and I are still very tired from our long journey yesterday that I posted about.  We will get some much-needed rest this evening as our first 10-days in Liberia have been an absolute whirlwind of exploring the people, landscape, culture, scenic sites, food, music, and of course, the schools.  I find that when I lay down at night, my mind pictures all the people and all the sites we took in for the day.  Tomorrow will be our final deliveries while we are here on this trip and I will continue to work out the details of my training for the teachers for Thursday.  I hope you are all having a great week and thank you for your well-wishes and continued interest in my journey.  This experience continues to teach me many things about myself as well as African Culture.  If you too are learning alongside with me, I welcome you, and hope you take something special from my experience!

~Dr. Miller, Day 10 June 11, 2024

There are no resources or collections to display