Second trip Monrovia + update


In July, the YUA team travelled to Monrovia for the second time. While our first trip was marked by first impressions and unfamiliarity, this time we walked around as though we had never left. The main goal of the trip was to provide the board members of Kriterion Monrovia with some necessary training regarding their future organizational model as well as some operational structures for when they open.

However, since we arrived in the weekend, we decided we should first have a bit of fun. KM’s project coordinator, Pandora Hodge, brought us along to her land just outside of Monrovia, which is beautifully located by the ocean. The current is usually quite strong, so swimming can be dangerous, but luckily there was a beautiful lagoon nearby where the river and the ocean meet and that provided us with some much needed cooling down.

After the weekend’s activities, we met with the representative from the European Union in Liberia. The EU supported Kriterion Monrovia with a grant, ensuring that the cinema dream will become a reality. Kriterion Monrovia will participate in their thematic instrument for democracy and human rights, and will therefore organize quite some thematic events regarding human rights issues. It was very nice to meet with the EU representatives, as they had many good ideas and were very much involved with our project.

The following days we prepared and executed the first training with the entire team. Since the organization of Kriterion Monrovia was founded in 2012, they already had quite some systems and structures in place. They impressed us quite a bit with how well thought out some of these were, such as the disciplinal system for the student volunteers, as well as the board members themselves. We discussed every job and responsibility each of them had in the current organizational structure, how this will change once the cinema is actually up and running, and what knowledge about this they would still need to gain.

Besides trainings and meetings, we also managed to watch the last few World Cup games with the team as well as some new friends we made, and to shop for souvenirs! We wanted to gather some of the rewards for the crowdfunding campaign such as locally crafted art, jewelry and even outfits made from traditional lapa cloth. This required some running around Monrovia, but we had a lot of fun picking out different items and doing our best to haggle with vendors like true Liberians!

We stayed for two weeks, during the rainy season, and while we thought we knew rain from living in the Netherlands, we had never seen anything like this before. The last three days of our trips it had rained so heavily that the road to the airport had been flooded. Our wonderful taxi driver and his car (that even functioned somewhat as a boat through the enormous puddles) still managed to get us safely to our flight back home.

We again had a wonderful time in Monrovia, filled with hard work and inspiration, and we cannot wait for our next trip, especially since it will probably coincide with the opening of our dream cinema: Kriterion Monrovia. Everyone is working hard towards this goal, including the entire team of Kriterion Monrovia and all partners involved. For example, our partner Engineers Without Borders travelled to Monrovia in June and is now working on the design of the building. The construction process is a bit delayed – we’re aiming for mid 2019 at this moment for the opening of the cinema!