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The Melete Foundation is a nonprofit that works to promote the practice of cultural understanding among the world's youth through education, art and media.  The Foundation believes that using the universal language of creative expression can empower students to explore different worlds and promote tolerance and peace.   Program participants are able to take these connections and their experiences to promote global connectivity in their own communities.  

Leaving Liberia by Nia

on Wed, 12/12/2012 - 13:29

 

 

Even though I left Liberia five days ago, i am just beginning to feel a sense of normalcy: no more jet lag, no more wondering if i am at my cousin Irene’s on the Old Road in Chugbor or at my sister Sannah’s off Chew Ave in Philadelphia, no more waking up and looking for a ceiling fan, the rooster’s crow, or a mosquito net as a clue to my whereabouts.  I am fighting a monster cold–thank you, lil cousins.  But at least it’s not malaria, what Cousin Jojo calls the poor man’s disease; or heart disease, what the 16 year old calls the rich man’s disease.

After returning to America after a

Visitor...Liking Liberia by Nia

on Mon, 12/10/2012 - 14:29

 

 

When someone visits my home, I have a habit of saying, “Make yourself at home”—it’s Southern hospitality, Yankee style.   This benevolence is universal; at least I know I’ve received it many times in Liberia.  I have been welcomed into strangers’ homes; friend of friends have taken time out to pick me up and take me out; and at every school I have visited, children stand and greet me with, “Good morning visitor.  How are you today?”  It appears that Liberians, at a very young age, are learning what Americans call Southern hospitality–Good!

Biker Boyz by Nia

on Fri, 12/07/2012 - 14:08

 

 

When I went to the health clinic to purchase my vaccinations and malaria pills, I did not expect to receive a lesson on all things safe in Liberia.  The nurse warned against eating any food prepared by non-family members or non-established restaurants.  Street food was a big no no!  She advised that I use sun block on the skin first and mosquito repellent next, and she advised that I ride in cars with people I know or in taxis.  If she could prohibit me from riding with the Pehn Pehn men, the commercial motor bike drivers, she would have.

Beachy Keen by Nia

on Thu, 12/06/2012 - 14:51

 

 

Liberia’s significance manifests in many ways: its unique relationship with the US, its resilience, its willingness to elect Africa’s first woman president, its natural resources, and of course its beaches.  These beaches make up the entire Southwestern border of Liberia, which is some 300 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline.  The coastline comprises a lot of beach; correction. . . a lot of lovely, plush, golden beaches.

I hear that some of the loveliest beaches are outside of Monrovia in places like Cape Mount and Buchanan.

Longing For Liberia by Nia

on Wed, 12/05/2012 - 13:44

 

 

Most of us possess an unwavering allegiance to our birthplace. But until traveling to Liberia, I never seriously considered the symbiotic relationship a person shares with her homeland.  It has become a recurring theme on this trip.  Just today, while my family and I discussed Diasporic Liberians, my cousin Henrietta assured everyone that if she ever studied abroad she would return home to serve her country.  She could not understand how anyone could go abroad to stay.

In 2006, seven years after my grandmother arrived in the U.S., she did not speak Henrietta’s words; she lived them.

Working Together: The School by Nia

on Mon, 12/03/2012 - 13:14

 

 

In the States, we tell children that the parents’ job is to go to work to make money and their job is to go to school to make good grades.  School is work for any person of any age—if it were not, then every student would earn all A’s.  Liberia’s no different—school-age children dress in uniform every morning and walk or are driven to school to WORK!.

The school I have formed a relationship with, Greater Work Academy in Chugbor, Sinkor, accommodates walkers; for all of its students live nearby.  They pay nothing, and teachers’ wage is so low that you can say they work for free.

Players...Play On By Nia

on Fri, 11/30/2012 - 14:13

 

Monrovia contains many playgrounds, but you will have to pay attention to “discover” them.  In Monrovia alone, I counted multiple adult playgrounds available for anyone with dispensable income.  One of the most relaxing is BET founder Bob Johnson’s resort, RLJ, which consists of multiple villa-style hotel rooms and suites that emit a South Beach-art deco flare. When visiting the air-conditioned lobby, I like to sink into an overstuffed arm-chair and play “guess where he’s from.”  Most lobby visitors are men, business men, and all speak an accented English.

Home by Nia

on Wed, 11/28/2012 - 14:32

 

If home is where the heart is, then this home is where many hearts lie.  And if anyone visits this home; they will find two warm hearts that overflow with love and acceptance.  My cousins’ house sits snuggly in the pocket of a dirt road community off the Old Road, in Chugbor, Sinkor.  Their “cul de sac” includes a mixture of structures: two dog pens, 7 single story homes, multi-room homes, and small, self-contained homes that we affectionately refer to as shotgun homes in the United States.  I hear there’s a river on the perimeter, but I’m too chicken to see for myself.

New Life for South Beach

on Tue, 11/27/2012 - 00:18

 

Monrovia’s South Beach seems to be the archetypical paradise: expanse of pliable sand, blue waves breaking into white foam along the shoreline, palm trees throughout. This image is only reinforced by the children playing soccer in the sand, warming up together in a line before dividing into teams.

Just over thirty years ago, however, the beach’s idyllic backdrop served as the scenery to very different players. After Samuel Doe’s successful coup in April of 1980, Liberia’s new leader was determined to eradicate the high-ranking officials in the previous government.

Working in Liberia by Nia

on Mon, 11/26/2012 - 21:14

 

 

Today I saw members of the Rock City community engaged in their livelihood: rock splitting. Before I saw anyone working, I smelled the burning rubber tires used to soften the rock, making it easier to split. In a different area, I saw thick black smoke rising from a slab of ignited rock that was still pinned to the earth’s wall. I saw school-age children splitting pieces of rock with a hammer, toddlers hauling loads of rocks on their heads, and women using rudimentary processes to extract rock from the earth. Rock splitting is drudgery—I have seen no grind like it.

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