This Blog serves as two things: a photo-diary of our lives between 2007 and mid 2011, when we saw some incredible things and met some amazing people; and a reflection of our more normal lives since then.

Monday, 31 December 2012

Farewell Jeremy, welcome Andy.

I love being brought up to date with happenings on the Africa Mercy. Congratulations, Andy, on your recent appointment as Transport Manager, and well done for hanging on in there for 6 years, waiting for the position to come your way.

Photo below of the Africa Mercy Transport Department in Conakry, Guinea: Andy (standing) and Jeremy (outgoing manager, seated), with Mathieu in the black and blue shirt and Lamin in the blue t-shirt.


Photo below of Andy at my old desk. Funny thing is the office hasn't changed one bit since we left 18 months ago...

Photos courtesy of Andrew & Jodie Rothwell. Olly

More ship visitors

Earlier in December we received a visit from ship friends Murray and Candace, who stayed a few days with us en route from Guinea to Cape Town having just left left the Africa Mercy


It was lovely spending time with you, guys. Come stay again on your way back to Indiana. Olly

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all PeetBlog readers. 2012 wasn't the best of years for me personally: constant rain, no real summer to talk of, and no real job continuity or job security. Praise God though, that we have food, and a warm dry house, and health, and a generous welfare system, and honest cops, and free and helpful hospitals, and family close at hand, and a great church, and good friends all over the world. Olly

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Book review: My Friend the Mercenary

I read this book a few months ago. James Brabazon, a British war correspondent, travelled with LURD rebel soldiers into Liberia twice - in 2002 and 2003 - as part of the battles to overthrow Taylor's government. He was accompanied by a South African mercenary, who acted as his bodyguard...


...an amazing story. You've got to read it. Olly

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Happy Birthday Libby

I know this entry is late...but Libby was 8 on 22nd December. She continues to be a strong Liberian girl who is head and shoulders above the rest of her class mates. She's doing great in school and can read well and we're proud of her. Olly


TV show review: Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations: Liberia

I've finally tracked down Series 6, Episode 16 of Anthony Bourdain's TV show "No Reservations" on the Travel Chanel, about his trip to Liberia in 2010. Click here to watch it.

Mr Bourdain's blog entry about his trip to Liberia begins "I’ve been to what? Eighty, ninety countries? I’ve seen a lot of things. But no place has so utterly confounded me, intimidated, horrified, amazed, sickened, depressed, inspired, exhausted and shown me – with every passing hour – how wrong I was about everything I might have thought only an hour previous". Click here to read the full entry.

He spent time with my old boss, Dave Waines, who was one of the few aid workers to stay in Liberia for most of the war years. Click here (and open link in new tab) to watch Dave telling one of his stories on YouTube.

Mr Bourdain's comments reminded me of something a friend said, when she visited us in 2007 when we lived in Liberia. She was responsible for 17 countries on behalf of one of the UK's biggest aid agencies, and said Liberia was in the worst condition of any country she had ever visited.

Mama Liberia, we continue to pray for you every day. Olly

Book review: Chasing the Devil

I'm reading a brilliant book by the Daily Telegraph's Tim Butcher, about his journey on foot through Liberia in 2009, following in the footsteps of Graham Greene and his cousin in the 1930s.



If you are interested in Sierra Leone or Liberia, you MUST read this book. Olly

Friday, 5 October 2012

Liberia's prisons

Liberia's state radio yesterday reported that 60 inmates have just escaped from Zwedru Prison in Grand Gedah County (South East Liberia, on the border with Ivory Coast). I can't blame them. Liberia's prisons are amongst the worst in the world when it comes to overcrowding, sanitation, availability of medical supplies, and quantity and quality of food. I spent a few hours in Monrovia's Central Prison in 2007, and it has been at Number One in my "Top Ten Worse Places In The World To Go, EVER", since then. Click on http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14993991 to read the BBC article with photos about Monrovia's Central Prison. The prison cells I visited were so overcrowded that people were hanging from the bars in hammocks made from rice-sacks, whilst the other cell mates had to sleep in shifts. When they were unlocked, scores of desperate men charged to the stinking latrines to relieve themselves...

God bless the guys of the Prison Fellowship world-wide, as they visit prisons like this one every week! Olly

Monday, 20 August 2012

Pox of the Chicken

A couple of weeks ago, Anna came out in Chicken Pox. Inevitably, Libby came out earlier this week, and with no previous resistance she has suffered much worse than Anna, and has been awake until 3 or 4am every night scratching. So after a couple of visits to local pharmacists, we now have a cupboard full of anti-itch ointments and medicines, and a bottle of mild sedative which we hope will today knock Libby out for the night. Deep sleep here we come!

Anna's back:

Libby's face (with trade-mark cross eyes):


Olly

Thursday, 16 August 2012

2012 Dutch Festival of Ice Cream and Pringles

We're just back from 2 weeks in Holland, where we house-sat for Sally's sister and had a great time cycling around, and eating ice cream and Pringles. We also met up with Dutch and German friends...the Samarawera's (ex-Caribbean Mercy and current Africa Mercy): Rick and Noah eating ice cream below):



...the Eveleens (ex-Anastasis and ex-Africa Mercy): Sally, Libby, Norah, Anna, Joyce, Danique and Annette eating ice cream below:



...and the Kronesters (ex-Caribbean Mercy, ex-Anastasis, ex-Africa Mercy and currently with Mercy Ships Germany): Jana, Anna and Kim Anna eating Pringles below:


Olly

Friday, 3 August 2012

Welcome to Holland...

Yes, we're visiting Sally's sister who lives just outside The Hague...

...where the Heineken is almost as cheap as bottled sparkling water!

4 litres = 5 Euro!

Olly

Liberia upgraded

Thank you, Matt Cramer, for this amazing photo of the junction of the two bridges on Bushrod Island going into Monrovia. Newly installed: solar powered traffic lights, and street signs! Wow! Olly


Monday, 23 July 2012

Flashback

There's a Settlers game going on in my kitchen right now...


...the likes of which we haven't seen for over a year. Another great Africa Mercy re-union! With the Szarek family, Tim Benson & Karin Larson. Olly

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Old friends

Yesterday we visited our old friends and crew-mates the Roystons, at their beach chalet in Dunster. It was lovely seeing them again and spending the day in that fantastic location...


...with it's amazing views over the Bristol Channel to South Wales...


...and spending the first day of summer together! 

The highlight of Noah's day was a driving lesson in a real car! He did OK, although several of the traffic cones lining the route would argue quite the opposite.


Thank you Patricia, Tony and Elliott, and may God bless you as you return to the Africa Mercy next week. Olly

Upload Complete: Summer is here

Summer arrived yesterday! After weeks of constant rain, the ground has just about dried out and the river levels are sinking back to normal. Yesterday we visited Dunster on the Somerset coast, where Libby and Anna played in a pool left behind by the receding tide:


...and today,  as temperatures continued to rise, we got the paddling pool out!

Oh yeah! Olly

Well done kids

At Noah's end of year Celebration of Achievement, he was one of four Year 7s awarded an Outstanding Achievement Award:


Anna and Libby did extremely well too! Both achieved great marks in their end of year reports.

So, well done kids, for doing so well in your first year back in the UK, and for coping so well with all the change and challenges that we threw at you. We are very proud of you.

And thank you, all you teachers on the Anastasis, at the Congo Town Back Road School for Missionary Kids, and on the Africa Mercy. Olly

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

100% 100% British!!!!!

Libby's British passport arrived in the post today. Now we can travel! 


And, bizarrely, it doesn't say anywhere on it that she wasn't born in the UK. Huh.

Thank you for everyone who prayed with us through this long process. Olly

PS Just found out that Noah and Anna's passports have EXPIRED! Aagghh!

Sports day...British style

Our kids have only ever experienced one Sports Day - in 2008 - held at a UN camp in Monrovia, where the kids competed on the baked red dusty drill-ground watched by Nepalese peacekeepers:



But this week sees their first British Sports Days, held not in Liberia's baking sun but in the cool drizzle of a typical green and wet British summer. The baked red dusty ground has been replaced with cool wet grass, and the sweaty parents and UN soldiers have been replaced by onlookers huddled under umbrellas...



Ahh. Olly

You can take the girl out of Liberia...

...but you can't take Liberia out of the girl. Anyone who has lived there will know that babies get wrapped up - I mean REALLY wrapped up - when they are unwell. Obviously Libby doesn't remember being a baby in Liberia, but last night she slept in her thickest winter pyjamas, socks and a woolly hat, despite it being one of the warmest nights of the year.


Huh. Olly

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Liberian fish and greens

Today we made one of our favourite Liberian dishes. It should have been made with sweet potato leaves, but in their absence we used spring greens and spinach, and I should have chopped them finer (in fact next time I'll probably use a food processor)...but I must say, after all that, it wasn't half bad! 


The recipe said it should have served 14, but Libby ate bowlful after bowlful after bowlful, and now we just have enough for a light lunch tomorrow!

The only thing missing was the atmosphere: we lacked the sticky cheap plastic table cloths and chairs, the locally made aluminium spoons, the chipped bowls, the 30+ degrees temperature, and a cold Club beer.

(A Club beer:

 )

Ahh! Olly

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Transition...complete!

This morning we attended Bournemouth County Court for the final hearing of Libby's UK adoption, and a charming judge granted an adoption order with no delay or concerns. So, please welcome Liberty Kiawen Peet as a British citizen. 



Thus ends a long 6-year adoption process. Olly

Monday, 30 April 2012

KLOVE from the Africa Mercy

This week, Amy from the US Christian radio station KLOVE's breakfast show will be reporting from the Africa Mercy in Togo. I love that station, and listen as much as I can via the internet in the UK. I really hope I can catch some of it. You can listen on www.klove.com. Olly

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Libby's Court Hearing next Wednesday!

Yes, next Wednesday we are ordered to appear before the local County Court for the Judge to make (or not make) a UK adoption order for Libby. If successful, she will be recognised as legally adopted by us in the UK, and will immediately become a British Citizen. Please pray for us; that we get there OK and in plenty of time, and that we have a calm and successful hearing. Olly

Charles Taylor's Last Stand

Today, 26th April 2012, we will hear the outcome of Charles Taylor's war crimes trial. Click here to read the BBC's summary before the decision is made. Olly

Monday, 16 April 2012

Happy Birthday Sally

Sally and I have just spent the weekend in London to celebrate her 40th birthday! We went up by coach, spent most of Saturday walking around the West End, saw Les Miserables in the evening, and spent the night at the Marble Arch Thistle. On Sunday we attended a Sushi making course at Yo! Sushi in Soho, where we spent 3 hours learning the art...in fact here is Sally having made a roll before cutting it...


...and here is the end result:


Looks good, eh? We ate nearly as much as we made, and are heartily sick of the site of sushi now. Hopefully we'll learn to love it again soon, as our fridge has 7 take-away sushi meals in it which we dragged around London after making.

After the course we walked miles across London again, from Soho through the beautiful Royal Parks to South Kensington before catching the coach home. Below, us on the bridge over the Serpentine Lake at Hyde Park. Another beautiful but cold day.


Thank you Nanny and Grandad for having Noah, Anna and Libby to stay. Sorry they gave you the cold! Hope you both get better soon. Olly

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Another brilliant BBC article on Liberia...

...by none other than John Humphrys. Click here to read "Forecasting Africa's future through Bong County" and other articles. Olly

Friday, 23 March 2012

Ellen Johnston Sirleaf says...

Click here to see what the President of Liberia thinks about gay rights in Liberia. She has shocked the liberal world, especially those in the US. A brave woman for standing up for what she believes in. Olly

Friday, 9 March 2012

Hilarious! Charles Taylor wants his pension!

MONROVIA, Liberia, March 8 (UPI) -- An aide to former Liberian President Charles Taylor says the deposed leader, on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity, is pursuing severance pay.

Taylor, on trial in The Hague, Netherlands, is allegedly seeking pension benefits from his years at president.

"Mr. Taylor has not received a dime from this government in terms of his pension benefits as former president," the aide told The New Dawn, Monrovia. "Taylor told me sometime last month that he was getting a lawyer to pursue it (the case)."

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2012/03/08/Former-Liberian-dictator-wants-pension/UPI-17781331253929/#ixzz1odRMOVjn


Saturday, 3 March 2012

The real Africa

I love this. Click on Africa to enlarge.

I can smell it! Olly

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Port of Monrovia update

Have a look at Google Earth. The image of the Freeport of Monrovia was updated on January 6th, 2012, and shows a lot of changes. Gone are the wrecks of the two sunken freighters in the middle of the port, and new pilings are being driven into the seabed to extend and reinforce the main wharf (6°20'39.12"N 10°47'43.83"W). Many of the old wharf-side warehouses have been demolished, leaving just the port offices where the hapless President Samuel Doe was captured by Prince Johnson prior to his torture and murder in 1990, at the beginning of the long civil war.

4 years on: CeCes Beach still has a river running through it - I guess it's now a regular feature of every rainy season.

The new old bridge looks great, complete with new road layout on the Island side.

And there are some great photos of the completed new Ministry of Health building in Congo Town. When we were last there it was home to hundreds of internally displaced people, who were cleared out before the Chinese moved back in to finish it:


And now it looks like this:



Amazing. Olly

New discoveries raise West Africa oil hopes

MONROVIA/FREETOWN, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Energy companies African Petroleum Corp and Anadarko said they struck oil off the coasts of Liberia and Sierra Leone, raising hopes for an energy bonanza in the war-scarred West African states.

By coincidence, an old friend of mine, Chris Wotorson, is on the very survey ship that has discovered the oil. Here is is, photo'd with the President of Liberia (the guy without a hat on the right of the photo). He was the engineering store man on the Anastasis whilst we were in Europe and Benin, 2004/2005. Jolly nice bloke, and the only Liberian I knew at the time. I did my Basic Safety Training with him in Rotterdam. Olly

Passports and birth certificates...

...arrived from the Child Benefit office yesterday, and went straight into another envelope to be sent to the court for Libby's adoption hearing. Praise God for such an efficient and reliable postal service! Olly

Friday, 17 February 2012

Big swing related Calf squash

Yesterday all five us went to the park, and all five of us managed to get onto the big swing. We managed to get some momentum going, and then I made the mistake of trying to stop it with my right leg. The movement buckled my foot backwards on itself, and the weight of us all crushed my calf. So today I'm still still in a lot of pain and limping badly, and can't drive. Huh. Olly.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Those nice people in the Child Benefit office!

After my complaint yesterday, I got a phone call this morning from a lovely lady in the Child Benefit office saying she had our passports and Libby's birth certificate, and will return them this afternoon in the mail. PTL! Shame I had to make 3 phone calls and a complaint to get this response. Now we can send the birth certificate to the court for the adoption hearing.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Adoption update update

Just before Christmas, the Child Benefit people asked to see Libby's birth certificate, which I sent them with a letter explaining we need it back a.s.a.p. because we have a court case pending.

Last week I sent the application to the Court for the adoption order, and today they wrote back asking to see Libby's birth certificate - and guess what - it is still with the Child Benefit people! Aah! So I made my third phone call asking for it back, and had to make a complaint as they have ignored all my previous phone calls. And still I didn't get to speak to someone who can send back to us the birth certificate! Apparently they have 5 working days to respond to this complaint before I get to make another complaint...

Systems!


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Libby's UK adoption update

Libby became our daughter by a Liberian Court's Decree of Adoption on 30th November 2005, but as that adoption order isn't recognised by the UK we are having to re-adopt her now we are settled in England. We are having regular visits by a social worker, and yesterday I posted the application to the County Court for an adoption order. We are nearly at the end of a very long road, and hopefully we'll get a court date and the UK adoption order before her visa expires at the beginning of May.

All this chatting with Social Workers has made us dig through our old photos. In early 2007 Sally went to Libby's birth village with Patti, the director of Acres of Hope adoption agency & orphanage, and commissioned a new hand-pump that had been installed by AoH. Quakor Village in Grand Cape Mount County is a incredibly poor village, as you can see from the photos below. The people live in mud and leaf shacks, and try to grow and hunt as much food as they can.


Below, Patti and Sally at the newly opened hand-pump which will save hundreds of lives over the next few years (1 in 5 children die in this region from mostly waterborne disease).


Below, Sally at the village's old source of water. No wonder so many children died.


The new hand-pump, costing only a few hundred dollars, provides clean and safe drinking water, and will last decades if properly used. Olly

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Hachiko -v- Greyfriars Bobby

We're watching the movie "Hachiko: A Dog's Tale" (1923 to 1934) . Ever heard of Grayfriars Bobby (1858 to 1872)? Huh. Olly

Memories

Today Libby said she remembered (and hated) Booboo The Chimp, who she shared an orphanage with when she was 10 months old. I seriously doubt it, but it's a good opportunity to post the photo of Libby, me and Booboo, taken Christmas Day 2005, just a few weeks after Libby joined the Peet family.


Ironically, Booboo lived better than the kids and even wore disposable nappies whilst the kids rotted in towels wrapped in plastic bags. Olly

Murray's blog

Murray has just updated his blog with some great photos of Togo, including the new dock lay-out including the Hospital's new dockside tents, the new Transport tent, the new fork-lift, the extension to the port, and Togo's new coast road, now fully working. Click here to see the photos. Olly

Saturday, 11 February 2012

African resourcefulness

I love photo. Thanks Rob Baker in Bamako. Olly

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

African plane?

I love this photo, posted on Facebook by a Liberian friend. Look closely. It's made up of old minibuses (like we travelled around Freetown in) complete with dented panels, smashed out windows, home-made roof racks, and the driver leaning out of the window. Photo-Shop at it's best. Olly

Liberia in the news

After weeks of there being no mention of Liberia in the world news, today there are no less than THREE articles about Liberia on the BBC's NewsAfrica website. Must be a quiet day in world news I guess.

Click here to read "Liberia ex-Warlord to be deported from US".

Click here to read "Barbecuing to boost Liberia's Economy".

Click here to read "Rubber Powered Nation".

Olly

Friday, 3 February 2012

Visitors from the ship

Have I told you who we've had to visit yet? Well, first we had Keith Chapman (Dental), then Alison Firth (Housekeeping), then Jesse Mitchell (Food Services), then Claire Edmonstone (from Appelsbosch), then Andy & Jodie & Jessica Rothwell (Engineering & Hospital), then Natalie Barnes (Hospital). And shortly Richard and Jo Postles & kids (ex-Chief Engineer & Nurse), then Alex & Sharon Williams (Hospital). Come one, come all. Olly

The Queen in Sherborne

Rumour has it that the Queen is coming to our new hometown of Sherborne on 1st May. Cool. Olly

Boy oh boy, it's cold!

We woke up to an outside temperature of -10 C (14 F) and thick frost. Over the next couple of days the cold dry air from Siberia will meet the damp air from the Atlantic somewhere over the UK...and maybe then we'll see some snow. We are all very excited at the prospect: Libby has never seen snow before, and Noah and Anna can't remember it. Me, I love snow but hate the cold, and am still missing the warmth of Africa terribly. In fact right now I'm sitting in bed writing this just to keep warm... Olly.

Screening in Togo

Wednesday 1st February saw the Africa Mercy's BIG screening in Togo, at the start of their 2012 Field Service. By all accounts, the day went well and crew saw around 4000 potential patients, and hundreds were selected for surgery for between now and July. The day passed peacefully, praise God. Well done, you good and faithful servants. We were praying for you. Olly


Above, thousands queue patiently in the sun under the watchful eye of Togolese riot police.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Congrats again, Ma Ellen

Today is inauguration day for Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia into her second term, after a violently (and ill-founded) contended election. And can I find mention of it anywhere in the world's press? No. Not even on the BBC. Huh. Olly

Photo below of our Anna presenting Her Excellency with flowers during her visit to the Africa Mercy in 2008.

Monrovia's new old bridge across

It's a cold and frosty morning here in England. I have nowhere to go and nothing to do so my thoughts have turned to a warmer place and busier times, that left a great impression on our hearts: Liberia. When we left at the end of 2008 the old bridge from Monrovia's Waterside to Vai Town looked like this:


BUT it's just been rebuilt by the Chinese (God bless 'em!) and here it is today:



Stunning eh? I really hope it helps to ease the congestion on the Gabriel Tucker bridge. Olly

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Catching up

So, we had a lovely Christmas with my brother, his wife Claire, Thomas & Sophie and my parents. Spent Boxing Day and New Year with Sally's parents. Then Jerry, Karen, Jermaine & Shakira from SBC came to stay for one night, and then Claire from Appelsbosch came to stay for 3 nights, and right now the Rothwells from the ship are staying for two nights en route from Australia to Togo. Things not looking good on the job front for me: I thought I had a great job lined up working for a missions agency that sends short-term teams overseas, but they wanted me to be away too much (up to 6 weeks at a time) which Sally and I weren't prepared to endure. So back to the drawing board. I have no jobs up my sleeve, and don't even have any gardening or self employed stuff lined up. Have applied for 4 mundane and unsatisfying jobs in local offices, such is our need to earn money. Come on God. Needing some direction here. Olly