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Author Topic: more help needed in Liberia  (Read 3112 times)

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Offline Mikey H

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more help needed in Liberia
« on: January 08, 2018, 03:51:33 PM »
Hi Folks,

Me again!  LIBERIA.  Small country in West Africa about the size of Tennessee.  It's about 3/4ths tropical rainforest and they have a lot of logs.  Wood-Mizer has sold dozens of sawmills there.   

Over the last 30 years, Wood-Mizer has donated or discounted about 15 sawmills into Liberia to be used by Christian missionaries, orphanages or schools.   Portable sawmills tend to disappear into the woods after several years since Liberia sometimes struggles with corruption and civil wars.  Four of them have recently made it back into the hands of missionary folks we work with over there.  If sawmills could sing, "I once was lost but now I'm found" would be the right tune. These sawmills are in rough shape (yours would be too if it got tied to a tree in a tropical rainforest) and that's where you come in. 

Revive Liberia is seeking more sawyer/mechanics to hop on an airplane and fly to Monrovia during 2018.  Direct roundtrip flights out of Washington DC are about $1,400.    Believe me, if you know how to change a blade and change an oil filter, you are an ace mechanic in Liberia (no offense intended).   RL would like to see a team of two or more going over there two to four times a year for a while.  The country is stable and safe and their economy is getting stronger.  Their guys have terrific attitudes and great work ethics but they need to be taught how to take care of a machine.  No tricky repairs are needed; just good old fashioned maintenance.  They have tools. 

INTERESTED?   Lemme know.  This is a missions trip where you can do your hobby or what you do for a living and change people's lives.  THANKS FOR CONSIDERING.

Mike Hanlon  mhanlon@woodmizer.com
Mike Hanlon
I work for Wood-Mizer in the Sales Department.  I am the Account Manager for 8 of our 15 US locations and I oversee the Christian Missions equipment discounts and donations.
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Offline POSTON WIDEHEAD

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2018, 04:34:52 PM »
I can't go but sounds rewarding.
Great job Mike what Woodmizer is doing.  smiley_thumbsup
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Offline Don P

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2018, 06:46:29 PM »
Sounds like fun.
Off the top of my head some questions, might as well put it here for anyone interested, others add to the questions whatever I'm not thinking of.

How long per stint?
Some time at the plant for training on these models?
Parts and supplies support?
English speaking?
Vaccines, diseases?
Food and shelter?
Internet to pick everyone's brains?
Gotta figure out some way to transport us... cast thy net wider for that. Who flies there?

Offline Mikey H

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2018, 07:28:26 PM »
Hi Don, great questions. Usually guys go for about 10 days, maybe 2 weeks. One week is a little too short when you figure 2 days are traveling.

We could figure out some training if it's decided it's needed. What state do you live in?
We are supplying all the parts and blades we know to supply. We figure you'll discover other needs when you're there and we'll send them ahead of the next team.

Liberians speak English very well but their accent will require several days to figure out.
Yes you'll need a couple hundred dollars worth of shots and malaria pills. You'll stay in a decent house on the beach, not kidding. Food will be provided and monitored for your sake. Internet service is spotty, not too reliable. Phone service is better. American Airlines flies there directly out of Washington DC.
Mike Hanlon
I work for Wood-Mizer in the Sales Department.  I am the Account Manager for 8 of our 15 US locations and I oversee the Christian Missions equipment discounts and donations.
mhanlon@woodmizer.com

Offline starmac

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2018, 07:34:33 PM »
This is probably a pay your own way type of mission trip isn't it.

My daughter went on a mission trip for 30 days to Africa. Iirc it was 3,000 bucks to go, but she raised the money mostly from donations from locals.
She did this right out of high school, and in my opinion it was one of the best experiences she could have possibly done. I tend to think she got more education wise than the folks they were helping.
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Offline terrifictimbersllc

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2018, 08:22:25 PM »
I went to Liberia last April with one person from Woodmizer, the missionary couple, another sawyer, and a car mechanic, all of them except me from Indiana.  But I USED to be from Indiana, so I knew I would fit right in!   I felt that I did, and we all had a fantastic time.    WE HAD A BLAST!!!! 8) 8) 8) smiley_bouncing_pinky smiley_bouncing_pinky smiley_bouncing_pinky

Two new exciting experiences for me in this photo:  1) I am sawing with a Wood-Mizer in Africa!!   2) I am sawing with a walk along mill!!! :D :D



  

14 days there, one day each side getting there and back.  I met the others in Detroit.  From there we flew Delta to Amsterdam, then KLM to Monrovia.   We were met by key people in Alive Liberia mission group who live in the Monrovia/Buchanan area.

Yes one pays his own travel expenses, immunizations, visa etc.  Over there, housing was provided, yes on the beach, and we gave a contribution for some of the food and other expense, which was relatively minor.  Africans drove us around. 

Most of my days were at the sawmill site.  But we took some time off.  They don't work on Sundays.  I was in an African church last Easter Sunday.  Wow!

I helped a little with Wood-Mizer maintenance but spent most of my time getting their BMS-250 and BMT-200 back in working order, and showing four or five of the Alive Liberia men how to sharpen blades.  We were sharpening 7 turbos.  When I arrived, neither sharpener nor setter was running, and the blades were mostly being ruined by attempted sharpening on a malfunctioning sharpener. When I left, we had hooks on the wall for dull blades (this was empty) and for perfectly sharpened blades,  shown below.  All I did was similar to what I do in Connecticut. Only in Africa, and there is a difference!!!

 It seemed a curious coincidence that I had upgraded to the same sharpener and setter a year previously.   Or was it?  Maybe you recognize this question.  :P :P  Anyone else I welcome you to ask what I mean. 



 

 If you would like to discuss this with more privacy than this thread,  you can PM or email me.  The pm and email contacts are to the left here in my profile.  I'd also welcome your phone call,  send me a message and let me know.

Not that it is what we did, but if you are used to camping, you'll have no problems with living over there for a couple of weeks.  If you've been abroad to a poorer country before, you already know much of what this is about, and you'll be re-living that feeling again.

I'll be going back again. I have friends over there now.  They're in my I-phone and I get calls and emails from them.  We talk about Woodmizer and Peterson sawing and maintenance.  But-before business- family and other things first!!   I've learned that's the African way!!! 8) 8) 8)


DJ Hoover, Terrific Timbers LLC,  Mystic CT   2001 WM LT40SHDD (42HP Kubota, Accuset2, FAO's, Lubemizer, debarker, hydraulics everywhere), Peterson WPF 10-30 with chain slabber. LogRite fetching arch, WM BMS250 sharpener/BMT250 setter.

Offline hunz

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2018, 10:38:38 PM »
I'm going to do this as soon as my youngest turns 10, maybe even drag my oldest with me. Hopefully, but not hopefully, there is still a need for teachers in this area in 10 years; my youngest is still in the oven. I suppose the whole purpose is to make Liberians self sufficient. Life is too short, the world too big, and needs so great, to not have part of it written in the storybook of your life. Period. I've been to impoverished countries before, and like has been mentioned.....you go there to help, and end up feeling like you're the one who was helped most. It's a renewing of your mind expeeience for sure.

Thanks for sharing!
Dream as if you'll saw forever; saw as if you'll die today.



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Offline DelawhereJoe

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2018, 11:10:42 PM »
I would love nothing more then the opportunity to go and serve but have no experience with a sawmill. I would be very willing to learn all aspects of running and maintaining a mill as well as the best way to turn a log into usable lumber. But due to poor health in my family and me bringing home all the bacon so my wife can school our special needs son with a real education unlike what they offer from the local school districts. If things change on my end please keep me in your thought process.
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Offline Darrel

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2018, 10:34:33 AM »
My wife has gone on several mission trips and taken kids from youth group with her. I've always stayed home and worked.  Our chihuahuas had puppies and we sold them to help sponsor kids to go on mission trips. 

Count me in, probably my wife too. We'll start making plans. Alejandro and Elana are old now and can't have anymore puppies but we'll go. Will let you know when we can get the logistics worked out.
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Offline Don P

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2018, 08:15:34 AM »
Are the mills in one location or scattered? Can you give co-ordinates we can zoom down on, it is a beautifully forested looking country on google earth. 75 low this morning 85 high and humid in Monrovia. Looks like a good place for a solar kiln.

Offline Crossroads

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2018, 08:44:05 AM »
Im curious to hear some of the answers to the list of questions above, but Im very interested. Would it be possible to get a packet to present to my church missions coordinator? I have vacation time that hasnt been scheduled and a desire to serve the Lord. Ive been and EMT for 17 years, a millwright for 16 years and am on my second wood Mizer.  1985 lt30 and a 2017 LT40. I have some experience with a mobile dimension as well. Thank you
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Offline terrifictimbersllc

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2018, 08:53:47 AM »
Are the mills in one location or scattered? Can you give co-ordinates we can zoom down on, it is a beautifully forested looking country on google earth. 75 low this morning 85 high and humid in Monrovia. Looks like a good place for a solar kiln.
Google maps look up Buchanan, Liberia.   Mills are together.

DJ Hoover, Terrific Timbers LLC,  Mystic CT   2001 WM LT40SHDD (42HP Kubota, Accuset2, FAO's, Lubemizer, debarker, hydraulics everywhere), Peterson WPF 10-30 with chain slabber. LogRite fetching arch, WM BMS250 sharpener/BMT250 setter.

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2018, 09:40:10 AM »
I think a lot of money is spent every year on "missionary tourism" that would be better spent if we just sent the money. This seems like the Real Deal though: actual training and teaching which will help people long-term. Interesting opportunity, especially if it has a Christian context and content.

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2018, 10:36:21 AM »
I think a lot of money is spent every year on "missionary tourism" that would be better spent if we just sent the money.

   I worked a long time in this part of the world and other equally remote and impoverished regions. I can assure you without a proper caretaker on the ground to see to proper distribution of the funds, they are stolen or wasted. There is always a con artist around trying to separate the honest hardworking people who need it from the money. If you visit any open air market in Africa or South America you will likely find used clothes for sale and on the outside of the bundle you will see something like "First Baptist Church of Symrna Mississippi" or such. The locals are getting some benefits but middle men are lining their pockets. The donators thought their gift went directly to the end user and that rarely happens unless they have a good contact there on the ground.

    My roommate in Cameroon sponsored a young lady who was working a very good local job as a guard for about $90/month. She worked 6 days a week 12 hours a day guarding our homes. He asked her what she wanted to do and she said she wanted to be a hair dresser but could not afford a hair dryer. Jack bought her a $25 hair dryer and she quit her job and set up a chair on a street corner making around $125 per week and doing what she wanted to do in life. She just never could get that $25 ahead to buy a hair dryer to make her career change. Only someone on the ground talking with her could have found this opportunity. Further giving her $25 directly would have probably resulted in her getting robbed or conned out of it.

   I had another guard, Roland, also making $90/month same conditions. He asked me to get him a job as a gardener and luck of the draw I rented a new apartment complex and needed a gardener and got him hired for $236/month working 40 hours a week. He was the hardest worker you ever saw and did great. He was then able to moonlight more than doubling his income working some of our private residences in his off times. Roland was a lay minister and my wife, on one of her visits, was amazed to find he used and carried a Gideon Bible.

   You have never truly seen poverty until you visit this region but you will be hard pressed to find nicer, friendlier people than some of them. I had an old CG in USMC days who said "They need a hand up, not a handout" and that seems applicable.

   Yes, I think this is the real deal too.
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Offline Mikey H

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2018, 11:26:14 AM »
Hi, thanks for all the replies.  Yes, we'll keep everybody in mind that wants to go later. It will be decades before trips of this kind aren't needed, if ever. 

If you zoom in on the harbor at Buchanan Liberia on Google Earth, you'll see a ship being loaded with veneer quality logs. The good news about allowing exports only of veneer quality logs is that the NOT QUITE VENEER logs get left behind for local folks to profit from.  Believe me, they aren't making much on the logs leaving the country. 

Here are some of the mills you could interact with in Liberia.  Yes, owner's manuals are available for all.   Anybody with savvy about the Kohler G25 engine would be worth your weight in gold over there.

1988 LT30G25 - newer Kohler G25 engine - on site and will be used after you go fix it -CROSSROADS, this has YOU written all over it
1990 LT40HDG25 - newer Kohler G25 engine - on site and working
2016 LT40D35N - Yanmar 35HP Tier 2 diesel   - with hyd loading arms and turner - on site and the main workhorse
2010 LT40D35 - still tied up in legal stuff, might be there by the time you are, low hours, sad story
2007 LT70HDD62 - a little tied up, rough shape, might be there by the time you are
1999 LT40HDD40 - wow, this sawmill is REALLY tired.  A new G25 engine has been sent along with a LOT of parts to rebuild it into a manual LT40 - they hydraulics are trashed beyond recognition.   A good mechanic could spend DAYS on this one.  Jim Brown is headed over there in the next couple of weeks.  He's the Director of our Customer Service department. He doesn't frighten easily but this one even has him a little spooked.   This mill would be a terrific poster child for WHY IS MAINTENANCE SO IMPORTANT. 

I might be forgetting a mill or two.  Alive Liberia oversees what is done with the profits from these mills.  One example (there are dozens) is support to a Christian grade school that the Muslims asked the Christians to build and run. You read that right. Dude. 

Im curious to hear some of the answers to the list of questions above, but Im very interested. Would it be possible to get a packet to present to my church missions coordinator? I have vacation time that hasnt been scheduled and a desire to serve the Lord. Ive been and EMT for 17 years, a millwright for 16 years and am on my second wood Mizer.  1985 lt30 and a 2017 LT40. I have some experience with a mobile dimension as well. Thank you
   CROSSROADS, contact me directly or have your church missions coordinator contact me and I'll send all the info I can.  Also, Alive Liberia has a flyer they can send. 

WV Sawmiller, you're so right about the need for a good contact, there, on the ground . . . especially in Liberia!!!! Imagine the Wild Wild West with no Marshall Dillon.  As Americans, we have no idea how blessed we are to live in a country where the rule of law and basic honesty are mostly reliable.   Liberians might refer to themselves as Christians, but that doesn't necessarily mean they won't steal the money and run.  Alive Liberia is highly blessed with a few longtime, honest, reliable, faithful Liberians to work with.  Frog is the name of one of them, so named because he made the mistake of joining the local church choir temporarily.  The American that oversees Alive Liberia has lost track of how many times he's been ripped off. But right now a good handle is on things and the work that's done and the gifts that are given will be managed as best as possible.  No guarantees, but worth the effort nonetheless. 

If I've missed any questions  ??? , I apologize.  Holler back and I'll answer. 

Mike


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Offline terrifictimbersllc

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2018, 11:53:13 AM »
I think a lot of money is spent every year on "missionary tourism" that would be better spent if we just sent the money. This seems like the Real Deal though: actual training and teaching which will help people long-term. Interesting opportunity, especially if it has a Christian context and content.
You may be right for some of such work.   I used to think the same thing until 7 years ago I became involved yearly with another church-building mission group where all the work is performed by volunteers.  In that case the only paid person on a site where 200 people might be working is the local crane operator.  Like here, money could be given, but it wouldn't work to use that money to hire people to do what the volunteers do.

DJ Hoover, Terrific Timbers LLC,  Mystic CT   2001 WM LT40SHDD (42HP Kubota, Accuset2, FAO's, Lubemizer, debarker, hydraulics everywhere), Peterson WPF 10-30 with chain slabber. LogRite fetching arch, WM BMS250 sharpener/BMT250 setter.

Offline Don P

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2018, 11:50:47 PM »
Thanks for all the info, I saw the logs on the pier and what looks like a mineral loading dock south of that. Where in relation is the sawing yard and cottage?

Doing a little googling, Buchanan is a city of about 35,000. It looks like June-Sept is the rainy season, not the time to go I assume.

There are some pics in their gallery here;
https://reviveliberia.org/gallery/
Bounce around that site a little for who they are and what they do. Looks like take full bags, old hand tools, glasses, etc and come home empty  ;)

and their business listing;
http://liberia.buildingmarkets.org/supplier/22878
So is the woodworking shop up towards Monrovia? I also saw that they have solar kilns in one blog and a charcoal retort.

I asked Mike about fishing, well a guys gotta eat;
http://extremefishingliberia.com/
it looked like a good sized local fishing fleet on google earth

If it does come together for us, and it is still a big if, much conversation up and down, I'd rather not be the first in and we'd like to stay awhile, we are more wrenches and could probably share quarters as experienced sawyers come through to train, are any of you all thinking of taking point? I'm speaking way out of turn but just bouncing stuff around.

Offline Crossroads

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2018, 12:14:13 AM »
I spoke with Mike, terrifictimber and Phil today and am pretty excited about the possibility of going in May. I havent had a chance to do much reading on this area or about revive Liberia Missions, but after chatting with Phil, I feel like I could fit right in. Now to get a jump on raising the funds and renewing my passport.......thank you for the phone calls today guys, it was a pleasure talking to you!
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2018, 01:53:44 PM »
Don,

   Don't let that Rainy season scare you off. If the logs are already on the yard and available it may be the best time of the year to be there. I worked 3.5 years in Douala Cameroon a little south of there and our rainy season was the most pleasant time of the year. As I remember we'd have violent thunderstorms between 2-4 am and it would stop. There would be fresh green leaves off the big mango trees along the road to work with lots of small broken limbs but the air would be cool and clean. Dad, down in N. Fla used to write and complain about how hot it was there and speculate how much worse it was where I was near the equator. I hated to tell him while he was suffering through sweltering 100 degree weather I was "suffering" through nice clean 75-80 degree weather on the other side of the world.

   I was never a big, salt water, big game fisherman. Closest I did was spear fishing in the Red Sea but that was up close and personal. I do regret I did not hire a pirogue, a couple of paddlers, 3-4 bailers (They all leaked live sieves) and gone up some of those really pretty Blackwater rivers over there with some light or ultra-light  tackle with spinners like I use here on Bluegills and Crappie and such. Most of those area have sandhauling operations where locals take big dugout or plank boats out in the mangroves as the tide permitted, and dug up sand and gravel for local construction projects and open air cement block making. I did hire one of these boats in Guinea and went up the Kissi-Kissi River to visit the villages and an illegal diamond mining operation. Amazingly the miners opened me with welcome arms and let me photograph them at work. I've posted that before and will come back and add the link if I can find it.

    Here it is http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php/topic,96311.0.html
Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline warren46

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Re: more help needed in Liberia
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2018, 09:14:44 PM »
I found some pictures I took in Liberia in 2010 that you may find interesting.

 

 

This lumber was sawn using a chainsaw mill right in the woods.  I think it is from rubber trees in a Firestone plantation.  This is up country about an eight hour drive from Monrovia.

 

  

 

These timbers were stacked near a trail where I was staying up country.  I suspect this wood was destined to be shipped to the US for high end hardwood.

 

 

A woodworking shop in the bush.

 

 

The beach at Monrovia.

It is really a beautiful country with great potential
Warren E. Johnson
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