Peace Corps Volunteer Inspires Father to Serve
In an interview with Tim Wulah, father of Liberia Volunteer, Abigail, he shares highlights from his visit to Liberia, and how it impacted his life.
“I didn’t want Abigail to come to Africa, especially Liberia. I grew up in Liberia, and I didn’t want her to deal with the realities of living in Monrovia, and dealing with my family members she never met” he said with a grin. His grin turned into a teenage smile. Kudos to the work she is doing. I have got so much more respect for her. Not just her, Kudos to all Peace Corps Volunteers, they should be given an award when they return from service. Giving up all they know, to live with strangers and successfully assimilate into their communities is beyond amazing! This trip opened my eyes in ways unimaginable.
Where did you
travel to and what area did you fall in love with? What was hard about
traveling in Liberia?
We first went to visit the Peace Corps office. That was very nice; the drive was great as the road was paved. I met her adopted family and it was good to know these people invited her in their home, and care for her over a period of three months. Abigail and I drove to her site. The road was paved most of the way, but a little rough in some parts. She had urged me to travel by public transport to experience what she goes through, but I was not going down that route. I rented a car for convenience and had no plans to take public transport. I told her I was not interested in that particular adventure so she relented and appreciated the ride in an air conditioned car. She made fun of the situation, and said she won’t mind the luxury of being driven after all. She looked at me and said “Daddy, it’s not bad. I am here to serve, to do that I have to understand those that I am serving”.
Before I left I understood the importance of the Peace Corps. She made me cook on the cookpot, I drew water from the well, and we walked everywhere. I lived in Liberia prior to the war, and never visited the area where she's living. I had everything I needed in Monrovia. Had it not been for Abigail service in Liberia, I would not have a reason to go to these other parts. She took me to the local community college; I was so impressed to see a community college in her town! I was so excited to meet, and talk with the administrators and faculty. They are doing such a great job! There are problems, but knowing the infrastructure is there, good faculty, and students are willing to learn is a good start. I also met the Peace Corps volunteer at the college.
We also visited her school and the students love her, the manner in which she interacts with them, and vice versa is assuring. Her connection with people in her school and community is great. I am glad she integrated well. Everywhere we went in the community they knew who she was.The day before I left I had a couple brothers come over so that we could all ride together. They were shocked when they saw how Abigail had assimilated to the lifestyle. I am so amazed at her commitment to her students. I left inspired by my daughters’ work. Before the end of her service, I intend to bring all her siblings to Liberia, so they can learn the importance of what she is doing, and how important the Peace Corps is!
What did you
learn about Peace Corps that you didn’t know before?
I don’t know where to start. When I encouraged Abigail to join the Peace Corps, I thought it would have been a good experience before going to graduate school. As a young women working with me in the church I knew she like to serve others, but I also know she like to travel and at the time the Peace Corps was offering both.My perception of the Peace Corps was basically Americans leave to teach in schools and they return after they serve. I didn’t realize the intricacy of the life of a volunteer. I had never interacted with a Peace Corps volunteer, and didn’t know the level of sacrifices they made. Abigail’s experience has been an eye opener. Now my perception of the Peace Corps has completely changed. The Peace Corps is sowing seeds that cannot be quantified.I am impressed with the manner which they serve the communities they live in. Their ability to leave the luxuries of the west for the betterment of mankind is profound. I am extremely happy I visited Abigail, because my perspective of the Peace Corps as a means of experiencing the world has reached a whole new level. It is more than that. The Peace Corps is not for everybody because it’s not about trying something adventurous. It is about entrenching yourself with people, you’ve never met or probably never dreamt of meeting, to make a difference. It’s a very humbling yet fulfilling experience. I see the Peace Corps as an experience where one can impact lives, and in the process realizing what is valuable in life. This is what I saw in my daughter.
What was it
like to see your daughter living and working in Liberia?
It was an eye-opening experience; my respect for her has grown a thousand fold. In her community she’s not this American woman; instead she’s just one of the folks. I was so surprise when her neighbor sent food over to her house, and she cooked and gave back! Her integration is so amazing. Watching her I learn more about life in Liberia than I have ever known. I told her she has become more Liberian than I am. I can’t stop telling her mom and siblings how life is so different for her, but in a good way.I say this because our life has been to ensure our kids have everything. They had the best of the best, so watching her live humble, and be so comfortable because it is in the interest of others, is beyond amazing. I am proud of my Love (my nickname for Abigail).
you the most about how life and the people of Liberia?
Well, having left Liberia since I was a young man I have always been critical of Liberia. Thanks to Abigail I had a reason to travel to one end of Liberia, and I must say. Seeing community colleges around the country, roads that are drivable, internet that is accessible outside of Monrovia, that was unheard of 15 years ago. I am impressed at how things are developing. I know Liberia is still in its infant stage, and I have been critical, but I realized I must be realistic about our development progression. I intend to go back, and let as many Liberian-Americans know that Liberia is moving forward. As a pastor I am disappointed that churches are not utilizing the word of God as they should. Work hard and you will reap what you sow. I am bi-vocational and also work for the State of California as an Information System Specialist for the last 23 years, I love what I do. However, as a pastor, I feel working hard is important, and given the level of poverty in Liberia I expected more churches to preach about honest labor. Unfortunately, I see more gravitating toward preaching about prosperity. The churches could make a big difference in developing our people and encouraging our youth to aspire to better things, but instead many of them are taking advantage of our poor folks while enriching the pastors.
I am leaving Liberia not disappointed at all. I am happy to see Abigail loves what she is doing, and making an impact. Over the years I watched her help me in the church, and I knew she was meant to help others. Her interaction with her community convinced me that irrespective of her western luxuries taken away she is happy, and that makes me happy. One thing I have to say, I am considering being a Peace Corps volunteer!