Below is our most recent letter from the field from our Founder Katie Meyler. Learn more about one of our students, James, and about two of our community volunteers, Macintosh and Gloria.
This is also posted on our brand new blog! Check it out at http://morethanme.org/blog/
He waited for hours outside of the gate where I live ducking under a piece of tin from the pounding rain. Even though James drives me crazy he has figured out a way to tattoo himself onto my heart. I think I will know him for the rest of my life. He is part of my story.
I had to buy an umbrella. There is no way to make it in rain conditions like this without some kind of gear. James and I went to the market, one of my favorite things to do when I travel. After I got my heavy duty camouflaged umbrella we walked around waiting for the rain to cool down. I played with some of the kids, they jumped up on the tables and we made faces at each other and they followed me around as I explored. James was still wearing the shorts I bought him more than 2 years ago; he couldn’t even zipper them they were way too small. We got some shorts.
I took a motorbike inside West Point. One of our ground workers, 30 year old Macintosh invited me to his home. I met his wife, sister in law and the kids that all live in one tiny room. He told me his story which is not much different from many of those who live inside the West Point maze. He’s an orphan. He’s been robbed many times over, watched people killed in front of him and struggles day to day to support his family charging phones from a tiny booth even though he has an education and a dream. Still there’s something different about Macintosh and it’s obvious. People look up to him. I’m still figuring it out. He said he’ll tell me the story later.
He loves kids and has a team that volunteers with the kids in West Point twice a week playing games with them and teaching them life skills. We walked around and he introduced me to the girls and their mothers who will receive a scholarship this year to go to school, some for the first time. I will get to know them more this week, but today was casual.
It’s a lot to soak in. I’ll always call West Point, the beauty and the beast. It’s full of color, LIFE, there are happy screaming, running kids everywhere, people dancing, laughing, cooking, selling, “lecturing” (talking) but it’s also one of the poorest areas in Liberia. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around what that even means. I guess we can just say it means people struggle badly to put their children in school and many don’t make it. It probably means some other things that I will never fully grasp but for now I’m still in awe that 30 new kids will be in school this year. It seems small but to them it’s close to winning the lottery, it’s means more to them then we know. Most of their parents never had that opportunity.
When I left West Point I met with Gloria, also 30, another ground volunteer with More than Me. Her husband was “poisoned” last year and he died. It seems like a normal story, I don’t get it and she didn’t have many answers but she is still full of optimism. She even adopted a child after the death of her husband and uses her free time to volunteer with the kids in West Point. She says they have it worse than her and she can make a difference.
As I look at the pictures from today tears well up in my eyes. I don’t feel sorry for anyone, I feel lucky to know these people. I’ve been here three times now and even lived in the bush for five months but the strength of Liberians still shakes me. They cause me to question what I’m made of and what is really important in my VERY short life.
Motivated to use everything in me to do what I can to send some more kids to school because they asked me to and I really like them.
My insides are moving, (maybe its diarrhea),