During our last two trips to Liberia we headed out to Bong County and crossed the St. Paul River to visit several small villages. While doing so we learned more about the importance of crossing the St. Paul, and its many dangers.
Each month many people die from crossing this immense river which, during the wet season can expand to 300 yards across and up to 40 meters deep. One individual we interviewed named John Monroe lost his wife with an unborn child, as well as four other children to the river when their canoe tipped. Unfortunately, John’s story is one that occurs far too often.
Crossing the river is not an easy task. Using a hollowed out tree trunk that takes 4 months to carve out and construct, the people cross the river many times during the day. Here are some reasons why the people need to cross:
- Buy and sell goods at the closest market in Haindi
- Receive medical attention at the closest clinic, also in Haindi
- Buy palm oil across the river and sell it in Monrovia (24 mile walk roundtrip after crossing the river – then coming back to the river, cross it, then another 60 miles to Monrovia by taxi)
- Closest High school (most schools across the river only have k-4, after that they have to find another school across the river.)
For our next trip out, we are looking for a few life-jackets for the canoe crossings. These life-jackets will allow the people to cross this enormous river more safely. Please donate your extra life-jackets to Sahbu.