Mail and Hearings

Sunset in LiberiaSo I get a call today from an unknown number. I answer it, and this guy says, “you john, I have mail for you.” I had a hard time understanding him, so after hanging up I asked my Liberian companions where the post office is? We were in town for the TRC public hearings, more on that later, and so I figured I’d walk over there and get it. Fully (works at the TRC), told me just to have them bring it to me. He asked if the man who called was a Liberian, then calls him on my phone and is like, “John at Centennial Pavilion, he want his mail here.” 15 minutes, and a 40LD ($0.60) tip later, I had my mail.

I had always heard that it was crazy expensive to send stuff to Liberia. I was told that DHL is the only company that shipped here. I checked their website and sure enough, $109 to ship a letter. But then some expat friends told me that the USPS would ship here. So I was talking to my friend Bill Allen a week ago, and I told him wanted some software on a CD. So he agreed to send it to me. For $2.70 the USPS got it here, and pretty quickly.

I’ve also since seen adds for both Fedex and UPS here. So if anyone wants to send me something that’d be great. I’ve been told that USPS is not the way to go if you want to send valuable things, and if you send two of everything the chance of one of them getting here goes up a lot. You have to put my phone number on the address since street addresses are a work in progress here:

John Etherton
3rd Street Sinkor

So at the TRC hearings today the commissioners wanted to hear the testimonies of two children who had lost their parents in the war. Apparently people had already come after the children to silence them, so their testimonies were recorded in a secret location on a DVD to be viewed at the hearings. Us at the IT department were called to set this up. I was asked to assist. I think I get asked to do everything that has some small level of importance because I’m white. Discrimintation… Anyway. We set it up, and find out that the DVD hasn’t been editied. So the children give their full name and their current address on the DVD. They also reveal the names of family members and other involved in the war. Obviously, this could identify them. So we were told to censor this.

Fully and I attending to the laptop So we play the DVD, and Fully and I sit on the ground in front of the projector, taking turns with our finger on the mute button. Not that I could really understand the Liberian English of the children on the DVD, but I was there just in case. This is technology at work in Africa.

 It was really cool to be apart of the hearings and here the amazing stories people have from the war. If nothing else I feel the TRC is offering a valuable service to the people who come to testify. It Gives them a much needed forum and voice to address the wrongs committed against them.

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