Monthly Archives: June 2014

June 29th, Sunday – a day of rest?

Sunday has been a busy day, especially for Julie.  We started with going to the ST Nogbe United Methodist Church where Julie joined the service playing keyboard for the introit, hymns, and benediction.  That after a nearly sleepless night as we both worried about the too-short time left here.

Right now (and for the last several hours) Julie has been reworking her kidney lectures.   She has been adjusting the lectures for the local level of the first and second year students and also to get rid of any copyrighted materials.  It is a lot of work but she is closing in on the final lecture now.

I mostly took the day off.  I had asked some of my friends to help me with a few troubling linux commands and some network issues.  I studied what they sent and will be attempting to implement tomorrow.  The system is running fine but the second server is not fully up with Moodle and there’s no cross server backup yet.  I hope to finalize both tomorrow.  Other than that it has been more relaxing for me than Julie.  I even took the time to sit outside and practice bagpipes on my electronic chanter!

We only have 2 1/2 days left then the long flight home.  It has been a roller coaster of emotions of late.  Today, church was a definite high point for both of us.  Their congregation gives so much yet has so little.

I have a few pictures from today’s service….

Julie at keyboard with some of our new choir friends

Julie at keyboard with some of our new choir friends


Outside the church with choir and assistant director Sam

Outside the church with choir and assistant director Sam and director Sawie

Julie, me and some of the choir

Julie, me and some of the choir

June 28th, Our last Saturday

Wow, where do I begin?   Last week was a whirlwind of activity.  Our project leader Katherine Luzuriaga, M.D. was here at the start of the week to review our efforts, run a little interference for the team and celebrate on all the accomplishments.   Dr. Jim Bailey headed home Wednesday, Anne Gilroy and Jim Comes on Friday.

Julie is working hard to adapt her kidney course so she can teach the course via the Moodle system.  We have WiFi operating in three locations on campus. I almost have the backup server online.  On Friday, I taught the basic administration of the Moodle system to the schools technical support person, Jappah.  He took to it like a fish to water.   By the end of the day he’d built his own test course complete with a quiz.

This morning when I was down at the restaurant getting some coffee I overheard a man speaking and I thought “I know that accent!”   “Excuse me, do you mind if I ask where you are from?”  “Scotland” was the reply.  We chatted and discovered we are both from the Fraser clan!  BTW this week I did manage to play my small bagpipes at the school… not sure when they will get over that!

Today we managed some time off along with some shopping at the market.  Very educational and fun.  Next week will be intense, we know this as the clock is ticking much faster than before.

I thought some more pictures might be nice…

Everyone carries things on their heads here… in this case that’s a box of microscopes headed for the lab.

Carrying the microscopes

Carrying the microscopes











the laptops awaiting students…60 of them!

the laptops awaiting students

the laptops awaiting students











Anne received this beautiful dress from the school

Anne Gilroy and the wonderful African dress

Anne Gilroy and the wonderful African dress







Sunset over the Atlantic

Atlantic Sunset

Atlantic Sunset


June 26th, Monrovia

Our colleague Dr. Jeff Bailey headed home early this morning.  I am going to miss him as he is way better than I am at Linux plus he is an avid football (soccer) fan and watching the world cup will having a few ‘Club’ beers has been a hoot!  Safe travels Jeff.


Yesterday we had a guest at the medical school computer lab, Dr. Emmet Dennis, the president of the University of Liberia and his vice president for academic affairs.  I showed them the system including an online demonstration of the Moodle system.  We were lucky he came by late enough because earlier in the day the little generator failed.

Today I am plowing through another Moodle install on the new server, this is the one Dr. Bailey configured with raid drives.  I am hoping to finish the install, back up our existing Moodle to it and test to make sure our backups are working.  Meanwhile I am continuing to setup the learning site.  I was supposed to train the faculty today but the generator failed again.  Maybe tomorrow.

My final work here will be to put in remote access.  This is critical so that Jeff and I can figure any final parts remote and so UMass Medical can provide support.  I don’t know how I will fit it all in.

More pictures coming tomorrow….


The system installation is going well.  Anne and Julie have been teaching classes.  Jim has been continuing to organize the medical library and Jeff was able to install Linux on the second server with the RAID disks.   Yesterday I was able to link the administration building back to the academic building using the long distance WiFi.

Even with all that effort there is still a large problem at the school.   Most of the time the school is either completely without electricity or running on a too-small generator.   Power, consistent power has been a problem in Liberia since the war.   All of the public utility electricity comes from generators and all the fuel for those generators is imported.   Next year or so a new/rebuilt hydroelectric dam will come online which will generator more electricity than they currently do with generators.  It will be a big change but for now, the school for the most part runs in the dark.

Eight months ago the schools big generator failed, partially due to lack of maintenance combined with the corrosive effects of the salt air from the ocean (about 200 yards away).  Compounding this, the local electric company will not complete installing a new, larger circuit until the school puts in a better grounding circuit.  I’ve have become the electrical engineer for the school and have been working with administration to get the grounding completed, the electrical connection to the grid upgraded and now working with our manager and USAID to try to find the money to fix the generator.   All in a days work here….

Here’s some pictures of the generator and electrical room…