Liberia: Candy From Strangers

Photo: Laura McClure

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Editors’ Note: Laura McClure is traveling in Liberia this month on an IRP Gatekeeper Editors trip organized by the International Reporting Project (IRP).

Well, it’s either a minor West African miracle or a Potemkin village conspiracy. So far not one Liberian child has asked me for pens, money, candy, stamps, my photo, their photo, a plane ticket, a tenfold price increase on a tourist item, or any address in the US.

I’ve traveled through 7 West African countries and never been this…not harassed. Good on you, Liberia! I imagine this attitudinal shift could make international funding for local fair-trade coffee projects, rainforest eco-lodge construction, and wandering-Australian-friendly surf camps a little easier to come by. Perhaps your neighbors could learn from this beautiful, baffling development. (Togo, I’m looking at you.)

MoJo Facebook fans: I’ve got your notes; thanks for your thoughtful questions. Answers coming this week after I track down the appropriate people here in Liberia. In the meantime, if you want to read a book about West Africa that will make you actually laugh out loud, here it is: Blue Clay People, William Powers‘ hilarious/excruciating account of life here as an NGO official focused on forest conservation. I’m reading it now; I’m at the end of Chapter 3 if you want to join me in an impromptu mini book club this week. (Spoiler alert: His guinea pig breeding experiment may run into a snag or two.)

Stay tuned for more Africa dispatches. Next post: Meet the women peace activists who ended Charles Taylor’s bloody war. [PHOTOS AND AUDIO, GODS AND WIFI WILLING]

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And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

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