Sunday, March 21, 2010
Yaron Deskalo Liberia Journal Day 7
For some of you that have spoken to me while I've been out here, it's been quite an experience driving up and down the roads of Monrovia. I actually feel like I could navigate a visitor around here -- there aren't too many main roads. But when we sit in our comfortable hotel, at the end of the night, I can't help but think of the poverty out there.
I've seen poverty before. Whether in the DR, Venezuela or Brazil. I've seen tribal areas near Thailand's border with Myanmar (or Burma, if you prefer) that seem to be caught not just in a different time period, but in an alternate continuum. But in Liberia, the poverty is everywhere. We leave our hotel, and 300 feet away - poverty. Not just small shacks, but ripped clothes, kids running in sewer water or playing in alleys full of who knows what.
When we watched Liberian Crusaders for Peace today - a group of 14 playing Liberian tribal music for us - much of the 'neighborhood' down the street from our hotel came out to watch. It was another instance where our cameras brought kids out by the hundreds. Man, they were so excited. It was one of the few times where I saw those large brown eyes of these children without a look of fear, sadness or desperation. There was simple excitement. It proved there was life behind some of these eyes. After being to a hospital in Bong County, driving down any street in the capital city, or looking out the window, you swear sometimes that within these souls, there is no life. Or at the very least, not life the way we think of it.
If one of your senses isn't captured by what you see when this piece is fully produced, then I haven't done my job. But day in and day out, my crew and I think about how we can best bring our viewers to this West African nation. Sometimes it's the city, sometimes it's the music. But it's always the people.
I know everyone speaks of Haiti today. And I have never been - either before or after the earthquake - but for those that have, I wonder if before the destruction, Port Au-Prince looked like Monrovia. Because if it did, why did it take an earthquake to help that place? And what's it going to take to fix this place? As foreigners, we drive around this city thinking about the enormous challenge it will take to really turn this country around. As we see it, there are no multinational companies, no foreign investment, nothing.
How would you fix this country? I'm not sure I'd know where to begin.