|Do not try this at home!|
|Part of the Unity Party parade|
Over the past month, Liberia has been in a political frenzy. The country is hosting its first back-to-back presidential elections in 50 years. This presidential election marks the 2nd election since the country’s bloody civil war that lasted 12 years (the length of the war varies between 10-14 years depending on who you ask).
Overall, the attitude of the country is one of optimism and excitement. People are happy and proud to exercise their right to vote. In a country of 3 million people, over 1/3 of the country died in a war fighting political oppression. The people that remained alive are excited to be a part of the rebuilding process. They want their country to remain peaceful and to remain on an upward growth pattern.
In preparation for the elections, many political parties hosted parades. These parades are not like the Thanksgiving parade and Christmas parades I’ve been to back in the states. Rather, the parades are made up of thousands of people marching in the streets.
|President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson|
I was amazed at the throngs of people that showed up for the Unity Party’s parade. The current president, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, is up for reelection and is the UP’s candidate. As people marched and danced in the streets, they gave thumbs-up signs, saying “Up with Ellen!” I quickly got caught up in the merriment of the day. The support of the president surged throughout the campaign, especially when Madame Sirleaf was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize. She was one of three women honored with the award for aiding women and democracy.
The mood, while mostly jubilant, has been tense at times. After the initial election results were announced, someone set fire to a Unity Party office. Madame Sirleaf received 46% of the votes and the runner-up received over 20% of the vote. Because no one had the majority of the vote, a run-off will be help on November 8.
In the country, you can see more peacekeeping UN troops. UN stands for United Nations.
Question: What is the United Nations? What is its purpose?
|Police from Nepal|
|The UN was very conspicuous, or|
easily seen, during the elections.
On Monday, we celebrated UN Day. To celebrate, our school invited members of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The UN presence in Liberia is largely a peacekeeping body. They are helping Liberia build and grow. They also have helped oversee the election process to make sure all the voting is fair.
Visiting our school were members of the US Army and Navy, policewomen from India, and policemen and women from Nepal. Each group has a different uniform, but they are all working for the UN.
Challenge: Check out the flag of Nepal. It’s unlike any flag I’ve ever seen.
The visitors brought bulletproof vests, binoculars, telescopes, and walkie-talkies for the kids to try out. They talked about their jobs, especially their roles in the recent elections.
|Playing dress-up on UN Day|
Random Information: No guns are allowed in Liberia. The only people allowed to carry weapons are those UN police, who guard the president and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As all of our students were assembled to hear the UN representatives talk, I looked over the student body and was amazed at how diverse our kids are. The students are from over 20 countries including United States of America, Brazil, Ethiopia, Nepal, Lebanon, Cameroon, Zambia, Canada, France, Gambia, India, Finland, Sweden, Korea, etc. The school is like its own united nations!