In his latest blog from Liberia, communications officer Gerry reflects on the challenges brought by the rainy season.

Gerry Naughton
Gerry Naughton
Communications officer, Liberia

Back to all stories | Posted on 09 Sep 2016 in Life in Liberia

There are no gutters in Liberia.

The rain just drops off the edge of the roof onto the ground. And this country is five times rainier than the UK, so it makes me wonder why.

Maybe the force of the most severe torrents would be so powerful it would rip the gutters away?

I’m philosophising about rain as I stand in the shelter of the overhanging corrugated roof of a local school after getting caught in a downpour on my way to watch my junior football team, Lions FC in Tubmanburg.

I’m not the only person taking refuge. Three girls and a dog are standing along from me. The nearest girl, aged about 14, has twisted a piece of grass into a circle and she’s reaching out, letting the drops from the roof fall through it – plip, plip, plip, plip.

They say the rainy season is the hungry time in Liberia. There is less work so there’s less money going around. There are fewer people around too. Those who walk are stuck indoors, motorbike taxis are less popular in the wet, and cars have to navigate unpaved roads, now transformed into muddy orange streams.

Mary’s Meals staff encountered road conditions like this on a fact-finding mission to Lofa County this month. Roads in other parts of the country would be just as bad.

Mary’s Meals staff encountered road conditions like this on a fact-finding mission to Lofa County this month. Roads in other parts of the country would be just as bad.

It’s the worst time for Mary’s Meals drivers too, attempting to reach schools in far off communities to deliver their September rice, peas and maize. They talk about one village that can only be reached by crossing seven bridges. 

The bridges are simply logs placed over a stream. It can take Mary’s Meals distribution officers two days to get there, and if your car breaks down you’d better hope you’ve got a phone signal because you won’t be able to flag down any passing traffic.

I call my friend and tell him I’m sheltering from the rain but will get to the match as soon as possible. Then it’s back to watching the rain and listening to the drops. No-one else is in sight.

A boy comes round the corner, drenched to the skin, and I recognise him. His name is Willie and he’s one of the wider squad of Lions FC. He’s carrying three boys’ school shirts on coat-hangers, which are also wet through. He stands next to me. I ask him what he’s been doing. “Selling,” he says.

After a few minutes, he says, “I’m going now, Gerry,” and darts into the rain.

A few people begin to pass, some with umbrellas, some with wet shoulders, but the rain is definitely easing. I kick a couple of stones into the rivulet and step out from the shelter and head off towards the thunder.