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The Witch Doctor Has Our Number

April 26, 2012
Small Motorbike

No, I don’t know where it came from. No, it doesn’t work. Yes, they haul it up on the porch. Yes, they have real wrecks.

It was really nice to go to Ganta on Tuesday.  The ATM was a breeze and by 1:00 I was in the market pawing through piles of jeans.  Nobody wanted to make a good deal, but I fought anyway and ended up with six pairs.  I don’t know why, but it was fun and I kept thinking, “My birthday is coming up…”  Then I bought some things at the Total and met Matt at Beer Garden.  It was really good to see someone who understands what school and life and everything is like.  He was worried I was going to early terminate too, “If anyone has a reason, RB, it’s you.”

Thanks, Matt.

But I assured him that’s anything but the answer to my problem.  Life is different, yes, and life is hard, yes, but this is still where I’m supposed to be.  I struggle to think of anything more important than carrying these 200 kids to their graduation.  They are the future of Liberia and this is the first step they’ll take on a long road to change.  They deserve to start on the right foot.

I left Ganta around 5:00 and got to Sanni just after 6:00.  I hadn’t been out of the taxi even two minutes when Evelyn ran across the street and grabbed my arm, “Ms. RB!  Where have you been?  James and Emeka are seriously sick in the hospital.”  The kids are in and out of the hospital all the time so this didn’t worry me.  But she continued, “There is so much blood.  They brought the Big Doctor Man and he’s working on him now.”

Now I was worried.  Really worried.

Apparently James has been suffering from seizures (“spells”) and his family wanted to get traditional treatment for him.  He and Emeka are from the same village so Emeka was carrying him on his motorbike.  James had a “spell” on the way and caused Emeka to crash.  “Blood won’t stop coming out of his mouth!” Evelyn said.  Somehow word got to Mr. Demy and he sent a car to bring them to the hospital.

Oh my god.

I saw George on the way home.  He was headed to the hospital but told me not to come, “They might not let you in so let it be tomorrow.”  The next day Emeka was on campus taking exams.  He looked very shaken but ok.  I saw James on the road just now.  His face is stitched back together in seven places and he’s swollen and in shock, but he was on his feet walking to a friend’s house.  “Did I miss your test?” he asked.  I shook my head, “Tomorrow, but James.  Really.  Take time.  It can be next week.  Rest your body.”  He looked at me like he didn’t really understand but nodded and thanked me.  Tuesday night I was afraid he was on his deathbed but here he was talking about the WAEC on the side of the road.  I pray he’s able to sit for it.  He might have to wait an entire year to try again.

They’ve all worked so hard.  In spite of the arguments and red marks they’ve made me so proud.  My Sunday boys asked to hold extra class every morning this week, “You will come, right?  Please come, Ms. RB!”  They said 8:00.  We compromised with 10:00.  It’s beyond exhausting but they’re so eager, so motivated, so proud of themselves.  After class yesterday Emmanuel smiled at me, “Ms. RB, math is scared of me now.  It used to be I was scared of it, but now it sees me and goes running.”  That’s one of the best things I could imagine a student saying, especially when earlier in the year he loudly lamented, “Ehhhh god, math can kill quick-o!”

Today we did a lot of review of things we have studied the past few months.  I was worried but they volunteered confidently and even asked me to split the board so they could race side-by-side.  At least one of them remembered each problem.  I hope the mock I wrote is challenging but doable.  It’s modeled exactly after a real WAEC.  I spent two days typing it last week and Mr. Demy graciously paid to have it photocopied, all 13 pages.  Most of the other teachers got two mimeographed sheets… then again, that’s all they needed.

I stayed on campus after study class even though I wasn’t giving exams.  It makes the kids happy to see me and I knew they could use the moral support.  Many of them still have application questions too and the more I can answer on campus the fewer will be waiting at my house in the morning.  They’re good kids.  They’re just seriously wearing me out.

“Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted.”

~ David Bly

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