Monday, July 31, 2006

Primary Health Care clinics

Primary Health Care clinic, Compound 3, Grand Bassa County, Liberia.
July 31, 2006

Today I finally visited the last of the ten Primary Health Care clinics that Merlin supports in Grand Bassa County. This bridge (left) crosses the St. John River between Grand Bassa and Lofar County. Several years ago our logistician (not pictured) witnessed a frantic mob fleeing rebels across this bridge. Several people fell off and he saw babies floating down the river.

Pictured are Mr Weah, Bassa County Health Team TB officer (running) and Dr. Simon Bwire, Merlin Field Medical Coordinator.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Lyse Doucet

Sarajevo, February 4, 2003

I'm developed quite a crush on the BBC's Lyse Doucet. I feel a bit guilty about this because while she's reporting on the current crisis from Beirut I'm tending to think about how sexy she looks in a flak jacket. I'm delighted to have just discovered from the link above that she's Canadian - although she sounds Irish to me. I'm reminded of the book Our Woman in Kabul by Irris Makler who was one of the first journalists to enter Kabul after the 'fall' of the Taliban - in it she remarks on the fact that while she was reporting historic events, most of the feedback she received was about her lipstick.

Running progress:
July 16
July 22
July 30

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Fire at Liberian Presidential mansion

Ice Harbor Dam, Snake River, Washington, USA.
September 3, 2001

Not much news today. Torrential rain here in Buchanan - but that's hardly new.

It was interesting that the Liberian Presidential mansion caught fire the other day immediately after the city power was turned on for the first time in over a decade. Our logistics coordinator, Carl, had predicted that the electrical infrastructure would fail.

That's about it.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

MSF versus Merlin

Merlin (red) take Medecins sans frontieres (blue) to a hard-fought 0-0 draw at the Buchanan fairground
July 22, 2006

Buchanan market
July 22, 2006

July 22, 2006

July 22, 2006

Yesterday was the first recent football match between the Merlin staff and Medecins sans frontieres staff here in Buchanan. Despite predictions of victory by both teams they played to a tiring 0-0 draw in front of a couple of dozen fans. Many were disappointed that there was no overtime or penalty shoot-out but the nets were being taken down before anyone realized and the referee would probably have wanted a supplement to his $15 game fee. Anyway, congratulations to Merlin (and MSF, I suppose)!

On the way back from the game I had a nice stroll through the Buchanan market and then on to the Merlin base. It was nice to shoot some cheerful pictures.

Running, um, continues. After pressure from Lord Coe, Haile Gebreselassie, and Bill Rogers I am simplifying my time chart - I will just show the total course time (currently composed of my run and walk) which will, I hope, continue to drop.

Sunday, July 16, 2006



Sundays are our day off. That's enough of a reason to like them but they get even better for me when there's a Formula 1 Grand Prix on. (Today is the French Grand Prix.)

I'm going to go running. I'm in poor shape but getting better. I try to run around a big triangle (OK, it's probably not that big) and I've gone about half-way so far before walking back but making good headway each time. It should be worth walking around the rest of the triangle today as I'm really inspired to push myself.

Some days here are less inspiring though, especially emotionally. We were discussing the demoralizing lack of voluntary blood donors a couple of days ago. I was moaning uselessly that nobody who works at the Liberian Government Hospital has ever given blood voluntarily. My friend Dr. Simon looked me in the eye and said there was something I didn't know: Hospital staff wait until a patient desperately needs blood - patients are supposed to persuade two friends or relatives to donate blood per surgery but sometimes they can't - and then the staff sell theirs. Also Simon told me of a case where the father of a needy woman had had to pay her brother to donate.

It's in keeping with the total lack of compassion for community and country that I find here - worse than any other country I've lived in.

But enough of that - I can moan about the West too. For those of you following my mission to have a dangerous street performer in Covent Garden stopped (see July 2), I have taken the issue up with the City of Westminster.

My favorite journalist, Peter Dudley, has posted another of his insightful stories to his blog ( This one is about Canada's failure to meet its Kyoto targets.

Sunday, July 2, 2006

From Brussels, London and Amsterdam

Lilly, London
June 18, 2006

I'm back in Liberia - safe, healthy and sound but already missing the places and particularly the people I met on my holiday. Thanks and greetings to everybody who could fit me in.
As well as meeting many marvelous (and uber-marvelous) people I ate well, drank lots of fresh milk (I already miss it) and saw a fantastic show: Fuerzabruta at Roundhouse Studios in London. (It runs until August 31 and I recommend it.)
Although it's was a great holiday I'm following up on two disappointments. The first was the service I received at the photography shop in Amsterdam (as I described last month) and the second was about a street performer in Covent Garden. This is a letter I sent Mayor Ken about it:

Dear Mr. Livingstone,

On a recent and very wonderful visit to London I was distressed by a street performer in Covent Garden who had an audience member
wrap him entirely in plastic wrap - including brief complete tight wrapping of his face. (The performer than escaped to great applause.) The point of course is that children might imitate the performance and suffocate.

I urge you to ensure that this performer be asked (or required?) to stop covering his face during the performance.

Please keep up the great work in London.

Tom Haythornthwaite

This is the response:

Dear Tom Haythornthwaite

Thank you for your email.I note your concerns about the street
performers act in Covent Garden. However, it is not in our remit to issue their licences or have any control over them or that area.This responsibility falls under the local authority for the area which could be Westminster. You can find their contact details via the website


Nicola Dunderdale

Public Liaison Officer

I'll pursue it and report back in a future blog entry.

So now it's back to the crazy life here. Frustrations continue to pile on but I'll stick it out until my contract ends at the end of December. There are currently a lot of Merlin jobs advertised around the world and I hope there will be then. But I'm certainly going to need another break.

I really like my new camera. The lens focuses so quickly. But I have to admit I'm surprised that I'm finding 70mm a bit too short sometimes. I do love it wide though. I'll probably buy a longer lens before my next holiday... which is going to be Kenya in October!!

I've updated my reading list.
That's all for now but I'll try not to wait so long before my next update.