Monday, January 11, 2010

Solomon

All this time we have been going about our business in Monrovia, efficiently multitasking between online consulting, running a community NGO and helping to start a waterfront bar, we have been keeping something from you--Solomon. Here you see him, watering our herb garden on the balcony with his backpack on, smiling broadly. Solomon, quite simply, makes our colorful, varied, rich and busy life in Liberia possible.

We met Solomon when we moved into our current apartment, a shared flat in the Old Star Radio Building on Mamba Point. He introduced himself to us with cheerfulness, asked us if this was our first time in Africa and if we'd like for him to show us around. I was a little wary, but his constant gifts of seasonal fruit and local snacks from the market won me over. Our flatmates had already trained him to run a few errands around Monrovia and had paid for his computer classes and school fees. So, we hired him to bring us a selection of local newspapers every afternoon, and things went from there.

Now, Solomon--a 17-year-old high school junior who's parents have died and who looks after his younger sisters--makes $15 a week running errands for us after school. He prints and scans email attachments, buys most of our groceries, scouts for the cheapest malaria prophylaxis and generally runs our daily errands for us. He'll show up around 3pm with his backpack (and sometimes, if he doesn't forget, his notebook), we'll go through a list of things for the day (Would you find me a straw hat? AAA batteries? Shrimp for dinner?), send him with USD and he'll walk of with a bounce I can see from the balcony, navigating the hot, crowded streets of Monrovia with aplomb.

Solomon is so pleasant and presentable that we send him on delivery missions with African T-Shirt Company merchandise and Women's Sewing Coop bags. We've even sent him to Robertsport to deliver supplies and paychecks to the Coop. Solomon loves Robertsport--he stays with Alfred Lomax, walks on the beach and visits community members we work closely with.

You'll be hearing lots more about Solomon in the future, but I wanted to introduce him now, in the New Year.

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