Justice

forgiveness • peacemaking • reconciliation
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Justice

Building Hospitals and Relationships

September 1, 2016 by

The pounding rain on our metal roof signals another day of construction at the new ELWA Hospital in Liberia. But we don’t just grab our tools and go; each day starts with devotions of a few varieties: first a pep talk from the foreman (mostly about hard hats) and then a prayer for safety by one of the workers.

Full View
a panorama from the center of the hospital complex

A panorama from the center of the hospital complex

For the past three weeks, I’ve been here in coastal Liberia, volunteering as an electrician on this hospital expansion project coordinated by Eternal Love Winning Africa. Today we are powering up the building which will house the operating theatre. That means adding another temporary splice to the already jumbled mass of wire climbing out of the pit in the power house. As Joe, one of the other electricians, prepares to make a live tap on the incoming service, I take a couple steps back. Electricity in Liberia runs at 400 volts, which can result in some pretty good flashes at times. Because of a lack of testing equipment, this happens more often than I am accustomed to back in the United States.

the electrical feeds that go to the hospital building

Around the front of the building, I hear a lot of shouting, getting progressively louder. I come around the corner to see what’s happening, and see thirty workers getting ready to move a steel truss, four feet wide and fifty feet long. With a final yell, the truss is lifted and then dragged along. Some workers are sweating it out, while others are holding on with only one hand and giving most of their energy to their vocals cords. It seems chaotic, but then I remember I’m in Liberia, where work is an extension of tradition and culture – no matter how unorganized or hilarious it seems.

This country has been through difficulties like few other others: the brutal civil war from 1989–1996 decimated the male population, and killed many women and children as well. Child soldiers were used heavily by rebel groups. More recently, Ebola killed almost 5,000 people in Liberia and affected many more.

several young boys playing soccer

Making only five or ten dollars a day, life for a Liberian laborer is meager. Rice and sauce make up the main diet here. Chicken and fish sometimes, but rarely, make their way into this menu. The vast majority of people live in rough tin shacks. We’re here in the rainy season and it’s clear that life can quickly become difficult for those without adequate housing.

Despite all this, the people here find great joy in daily life. Liberians see themselves as survivors, not easily downed by the trivial needs of the day. Working alongside them on the construction of this new hospital, the constant laughter and jokes make the days pass easier. I’ve learned that building relationships with those around me, and caring for their wellbeing, is far more important than my productivity. With this new perspective, I’ll always remember these three short weeks in Africa and the friends I am leaving here.

Roy and some of his new friends in Liberia
Roy with some of his new friends in Liberia


Roy Maendel , who is based at the Woodcrest Bruderhof in New York, is currently volunteering with the Samaritan’s Purse international charity. After his stay in Liberia, he moved on to Nepal. Watch our blog for future updates from there.

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Full View
a panorama from the center of the hospital complex

A panorama from the center of the hospital complex

For the past three weeks, I’ve been here in coastal Liberia, volunteering as an electrician on this hospital expansion project coordinated by Eternal Love Winning Africa. Today we are powering up the building which will house the operating theatre. That means adding another temporary splice to the already jumbled mass of wire climbing out of the pit in the power house. As Joe, one of the other electricians, prepares to make a live tap on the incoming service, I take a couple steps back. Electricity in Liberia runs at 400 volts, which can result in some pretty good flashes at times. Because of a lack of testing equipment, this happens more often than I am accustomed to back in the United States.

the electrical feeds that go to the hospital building

Around the front of the building, I hear a lot of shouting, getting progressively louder. I come around the corner to see what’s happening, and see thirty workers getting ready to move a steel truss, four feet wide and fifty feet long. With a final yell, the truss is lifted and then dragged along. Some workers are sweating it out, while others are holding on with only one hand and giving most of their energy to their vocals cords. It seems chaotic, but then I remember I’m in Liberia, where work is an extension of tradition and culture – no matter how unorganized or hilarious it seems.

This country has been through difficulties like few other others: the brutal civil war from 1989–1996 decimated the male population, and killed many women and children as well. Child soldiers were used heavily by rebel groups. More recently, Ebola killed almost 5,000 people in Liberia and affected many more.

several young boys playing soccer

Making only five or ten dollars a day, life for a Liberian laborer is meager. Rice and sauce make up the main diet here. Chicken and fish sometimes, but rarely, make their way into this menu. The vast majority of people live in rough tin shacks. We’re here in the rainy season and it’s clear that life can quickly become difficult for those without adequate housing.

Despite all this, the people here find great joy in daily life. Liberians see themselves as survivors, not easily downed by the trivial needs of the day. Working alongside them on the construction of this new hospital, the constant laughter and jokes make the days pass easier. I’ve learned that building relationships with those around me, and caring for their wellbeing, is far more important than my productivity. With this new perspective, I’ll always remember these three short weeks in Africa and the friends I am leaving here.

Roy and some of his new friends in Liberia
Roy with some of his new friends in Liberia


Roy Maendel , who is based at the Woodcrest Bruderhof in New York, is currently volunteering with the Samaritan’s Purse international charity. After his stay in Liberia, he moved on to Nepal. Watch our blog for future updates from there.

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  • Dear Roy , you told your experinces in Liberia very well. I have also worked as a volunteer for disabled ciitizens. It has always been joy and happiness to work as a volunteer. Yes , to work as a volunteer is hard work but at the end you see the love and peace of God in the eyes of those people whom you work. I think this kind of samaritan activities will help for coming of Kingdom of God. I wish I could be with you helping the construction of the hospitals. I am a teacher but I also do HVAC Works at buildings. Hope we meet in a Project in somewhere and someday.

    metin erdem, Turkey