Liberia: Candy From Strangers

Photo: Laura McClure

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Editors’ Note: Laura McClure is traveling in Liberia this month on an IRP Gatekeeper Editors trip organized by the International Reporting Project (IRP).

Well, it’s either a minor West African miracle or a Potemkin village conspiracy. So far not one Liberian child has asked me for pens, money, candy, stamps, my photo, their photo, a plane ticket, a tenfold price increase on a tourist item, or any address in the US.

I’ve traveled through 7 West African countries and never been this…not harassed. Good on you, Liberia! I imagine this attitudinal shift could make international funding for local fair-trade coffee projects, rainforest eco-lodge construction, and wandering-Australian-friendly surf camps a little easier to come by. Perhaps your neighbors could learn from this beautiful, baffling development. (Togo, I’m looking at you.)

MoJo Facebook fans: I’ve got your notes; thanks for your thoughtful questions. Answers coming this week after I track down the appropriate people here in Liberia. In the meantime, if you want to read a book about West Africa that will make you actually laugh out loud, here it is: Blue Clay People, William Powers‘ hilarious/excruciating account of life here as an NGO official focused on forest conservation. I’m reading it now; I’m at the end of Chapter 3 if you want to join me in an impromptu mini book club this week. (Spoiler alert: His guinea pig breeding experiment may run into a snag or two.)

Stay tuned for more Africa dispatches. Next post: Meet the women peace activists who ended Charles Taylor’s bloody war. [PHOTOS AND AUDIO, GODS AND WIFI WILLING]

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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