Today we picked up Jessie and Nadime from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so they could take us and A&E to an area to help us buy some things for the kids rooms from Liberia. As they got in the car they joked, Sue we want to take you inside to see the process. When we came back to drop them off after shopping I said, "Hey, maybe I should go with you." They were kind of surprised but quickly thought it was a good idea. However I could not get inside because I was wearing shorts and my shoulders were not covered. Nadime took me back to the hotel to change, the kids took naps while I went back to see for myself why it is such a pain to get a passport in Liberia. However, as Nadime and Jessie tried to get me inside, they had to negotiate with the guard because this time I had jeans on instead of slacks. I quickly, thinking I was so smart, said this guys had jeans on and he went in. They all laughed and said, yes but he is a male and you are not. Oh, didn't think about that. Finally, they let me in.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is about five story building where Ellen Sirleaf Johson, the president of Liberia, has her office. We walked into the bottom floor where you get the passports and there were people sitting and waiting everywhere. The building was warm. I would not say hot, but I was not comfortable the hour and a half I waited with Nadime and Jessie. There were big water stains on the ceiling, the walls had not been painted for some time and when they were it looked like different shades of off white or yellow had been experimented with on the wall. The lights were fluorescent. No one was eating or drinking, or reading, except for one small newspaper floating around. Everyone looked like they had just missed three connections of an airplane and wouldn't be getting home for three days. Nadime and Jessie have been playing this game since the beginning of April. I said why can't you stop by everyday see if the passports are ready and then move on why do you need to sit here? They said because if they sit there, they are more likely to get passport. You see, Liberia has only approved for just over a thousand passports to be issued every month. A new budget was passed and in a few months they will start allowing just over three thousand passports to be issued a month. There was one man who applied for his passport last September. He never received it until he came to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then he finally got it, but just last week. Nadime and Jessie are waiting for passports they applied for the beginning of April, that is a minimum of three months it is taking for passports to be issued. At one point while I was there a policeman came in and he started talking loudly to another man. They then took the man away and we never saw him the rest of the afternoon. I had no idea what was going on until Jessie explained to me that the man taken away had tried to pay money to get his passport "fixed." At least it appears they are not taking bribes.
Everyone in the office seems to know Jessie and Nadime. They are regulars here.
All afternoon this is life, people star straight ahead waiting and waiting. Passport workers walk by and once in a while they come out of the office and a guy waves his hand back and forth while people gather around him and wait. At one point I saw a man dancing and singing like the NFL players do when they score a touchdown. He had made it another step further in the Passport Process. It is the hardest part of getting kids' paperwork ready to be adopted and it seems there is nothing that can be done to make the process go faster. Jessie says it has always been like this. Hopefully when the approval to triple the number of passports goes into affect, it will be a bit better.
We are spending our final day tomorrow at the AFAA house so GOOGEG FAMILY I will get photos and info. about your children then, but I will not post it until we get home which will be Saturday night.
Another observation here, there is never one person in a car, there are never two people in cars. Cars are always full with people and there are no car seats, just laps of adults for children to ride on. A different world! We are introducing A&E to pizza now. We gave them sprite and they loved to pour it to watch it fizzle. They got the hang of the toilet today and loved to flush it even for Mommy before she was done going!! I tried to explain a washing machine today, boy will that be something.