Mike’s Liberia Journal
January 15, 2019 - Monrovia, Liberia
Since my last journal, much progress has been made on the clinic that will open soon. We have finished renovations on the clinic space and conducted a complete survey on our entire hospital complex due to the efforts of our friend Charlie. Who is Charlie?
Charlie is a good friend of mine and supporter of Partner Liberia from Richmond, Virginia. He has wanted to come to Liberia for several years but we haven’t been able to come up with a suitable project for him until now. Charlie is an incredibly talented civil/structural engineer. A formal building inspection has never been conducted on our building (nor on nearly any building in Liberia)…no blueprints were ever made, either. Charlie offered to do both pro bono.
The building inspection is incredibly important. Not only are skilled architects very rare here, quality building/electrical materials are very difficult to come by in Liberia, leading to frequent building “failures.” As an example, the national hospital here has had a major electrical fire annually for the past 3 years within patient treatment areas. We don’t want this to happen. Also, our facility consists of 3 “buildings” constructed in 5 phases by 5 different contractors without any handoff of information, records or blueprints. Therefore, new additions may exceed the specifications of prior ones (a third or fourth floor that exceeds the weight limit of the second floor, for example). We certainly hoped these issues did not exist for us, but, it seemed like something worth finding out. And Charlie offered to help us do exactly that.
Beyond the inspection, Charlie offered to survey the facility and create three dimensional, interactive blueprints for us. This will allow us to provide visual models for our donors and collaborators. Our great friend Jim Valenza at the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development kindly created an aerial map of our compound using drones a few months ago (see Jim’s maps below and check out the AASD’s website HERE). We can integrate those maps with these blueprints and be able to share our facility inside and out with anyone, anywhere.
So, Charlie arrived at the end of my first week here and we immediately began the process of surveying and inspecting the hospital. Our two-person crew got the job done in 5 days, and in about a month’s time, he will have used all of the data we gathered to create our blueprints which I will share in future journals.
Charlie certainly needed to see more than just the city of Monrovia during his first trip to Liberia. We drove to Buchanan for his last few days and spent the night by the river, hung out at the beach. Along with giving him the “Joe Daweah, Jr. Tour of Buchanan,” he got to check off part of his herpetology bucket list.
As I’ve often mentioned, Liberia is filled with a variety of amazing creatures. I have been fortunate enough to see (and occasionally interact) with many animals I never expected to see outside of a zoo. Charlie was interested in seeing whatever he could…particularly, snakes.
I’m not a huge fan of snakes nor am I terrified of them. In the States, I’d rather not come across one by surprise but I might enjoy seeing one from a safe distance. In Liberia…I’m a bit closer to being terrified. The combination of the lethality of some of the snakes here and the lack of healthcare just doesn’t suit me. I’ve seen 3 snakes in my 8 years here – a dead python for sale, a live harmless water snake, and a live black mamba. The black mamba, one of the deadliest snakes in the world, was crossing the road while I was driving, that was as close as I wanted to come to this spectacular but dangerous snake.
Charlie kept looking without luck until the day prior to his departure. As we drove to the beach in Buchanan, a beautiful/terrifying green mamba crossed the road in front of us. I was unable to snap a photo but I was moving slowly enough to admire. Charlie was ecstatic (I was fairly pleased). I am glad it wasn’t any closer to us…I’m also glad to have seen it as it was truly beautiful.
Along with completing the survey/inspection we completed a fairly thorough renovation and “polishing” of our clinic space we are preparing to open. In one of my most productive weeks ever in Liberia, we managed to buff and clean the floors of the entire facility, paint the interior and exterior, finish the needed landscaping of the property, and furnish the clinic! Progress, progress, progress. See the photos below that show the continued work to open the hospital and Jim’s blueprints!
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