Friday, February 27, 2009


The drive into the Lott Carey campus is interesting. Just past the bustling market area (it sits squarely on the railroad tracks, established there by squatters during the war when the railroad could not run - now, of course it is ruined and will ahve to be rebuilt some day) and the police checkpoint area on the main road, is a noticeably well-manicured, rolling area dotted with palm trees. On school days, uniformed students stroll along the campus pathways there on their way to class. Turning into the driveway, the complex of single story, red-roofed, school buildings to the left really does look comfortingly "schoolish". In particular, the cottagey nursery building with it's brightly colored shutters and the Liberian-style picket fence is absolutely charming. It really looks enchanting (ed?) when those adorable little uniformed "munchkins" gather there for class.

The view on the right of the drive is anything but charming, however. Like most places in Liberia, Lott Carey Mission School did not escape war. The bombed out hulking shell that looms over the right side of the drive is such a sad reminder of that recent past. Rebel forces took over the school campus and occupied it for several years as a rebel stronghold, barracks and ammunition storage. The once-gracious administration building pictured above was used for fuel storage on the ground floor and ammunition on the second floor. As a parting shot when they evacuated, occupying forces blew it up.

On one of our trips out to the countryside we saw the once-beautiful home of a former president of Liberia. The setting was spectacular and there were enough remnants of the old style estate left to indicate it's past life as a tropical paradise. Now, however, the roofless house is occupied by squatters. Laundry draped over the window openings, the neglected fountain at the entrance, overgrown outbuildings and cracked pool pit give the place an eerie quality and we passed on by quickly.

There are building remnants like this all over Liberia. At the same time, there is construction everywhere. New buildings are going up all over and the Chinese are very busy re-building the destroyed roads. It is sometimes hard to tell the destruction from the construction but there is an overall optimism about the future that is infectious.

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