Curious Liberian Words and Phrases

Several members of Amani Liberia wearing their matching Amani t-shirts.

Here are a few Liberian words and phrases that tend to tickle Westerners:

Bright (light-skinned)
“Which woman, the bright one?”

 Double-double (a lot)
“It's a double-double blessing!”

Dress (move)
“Dress, please.” or “I was interested in her, so I was trying to dress close to her.”

Dry (thin)
Liberians prefer to be larger; to call someone thin might be insulting.
“She was too dry, but now she’s big!”

-o (added to provide emphasis)
Liberians often add an “o” to the end of anything they say in excitement
“There’s a snake-o!”

Fine (Beautiful, good, more than adequate)
“The building is fine-o!”

Reaching (heading towards)
“I am reaching home now.”

Small-small (little, less, fewer)
“I am getting better, small-small”

Take time (Be careful, slow down)
If you slip while walking in mud, a Liberian might say this to you.
“Take time"

Vex (angry)
“I am vexed with him!”

“How's da body?” (How are you doing?)

“I’m trying” (I’m doing okay)

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On weekday afternoons, someone walking around in Yekepa, Liberia might hear a curious sound floating through the open windows and doors of Amani Liberia. The members are having their daily devotional.

“The singing-o! I like it!” remarks Ophelia. Devotion begins with the group gathered around in one corner of the building. For a while everyone is quiet, pausing to wind down from cutting and stitching. Then suddenly, one member’s voice rings out the first line of a well-known worship song. The others follow, adding their own distinct voices and two drums to the ensemble--- “That’s my work!” says Austin, who partners with Ellis each day to create a drumbeat for the singers. “That’s my field!”

After several songs, one member delivers a short sermon on a biblical concept or person in the bible. Regina explains that this time allows members to “become strong in the word of God”. Darlene also finds devotion to be useful. “If there is a wrong in your life, it can show you how to live.” says Darlene. Devotion gives the members peace in their busy lives. “Devotion makes me feel fine in my heart!” exclaims Yei.

Afterwards comes a time when struggles are shared and words of thanks are given. “If you have any praises or prayer requests, you let it out and we can all pray for each other.” says Izetta.

Members at Amani are very busy people. Almost all have children to tend to, and some, like Darlene and Esther, have small businesses. (To learn more about the many tasks an Amani member must see to on a daily basis, check out our recent blogs on a typical day. “Sometimes I don’t have time to do a devotion in the morning. So, I come here and I can do devotion with everybody,” says Esther. Because of her small business, Darlene cannot go to church every Sunday. “Not everyone has that chance,” she says. “So I am getting my time with God every day at Amani!"

After individual praises have been offered and requests have been made, one member closes the group in prayer. Theresa writes down the items on the prayer list, which is exchanged with Amani ya Juu’s centers in the U.S., Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda. This allows a wide network of sisters to give thanks and share in struggles together.

Devotion is a cornerstone of Amani ya Juu’s holistic solution to poverty. “It makes you come up fine—to live the rightful way.” says Ellis. Members are able to gain dignity through work and useful skills for the future, but are also given something bigger, which Annie shares enthusiastically.
“Without God, man has no hope. I love my devotion time. My spirit can be moved!”

Wilson enjoying his own devotion time. 

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When a Storm Blew In

One thing is for certain, everyone at Amani works very hard everyday. We are faced with many obstacles here in Liberia but the ladies work tirelessly through them. 

One thing that has been a recent challenge is the lack of electricity. We are currently in the dry season and the large windows at Amani keep the building cool and fully lit. However, when a large storm blew in last week the place became eerily dark. The members were finding it hard to work but each found their own way to manage.

Darlene, who was cutting one of our new designs, the Shift Dress, creatively used her phone torch to light up her work.  Her remark was "I need to make sure my work is done fine!"

While all the members manage to work with out electricity we are praying that the day will soon come when we can use our electric machines, fans, lights and open our café!


Amani Family is Growing

Amani Liberia rejoiced together this week and welcomed the newest member to the family.

Yei’s fine baby boy, Silas, came for a visit! Everyone was eager to catch a glimpse and hold this wonderful gift from God.

Proud mother and baby 

Silas is loved at Amani; with Ma Annie
Yei is eager to come back to Amani and we look forward to working alongside her and Silas when that time comes.



Patricia is a 27-year-old ball of liveliness. Anytime she sees a camera, she implores the photographer to take a shot of her from one to five different angles, shifting her pose each time.

Last November, a friend told Patricia there was a sewing job available with Amani Liberia, so she requested an interview. She was asked if she was a good stitcher. “I said yes,” she says, with an air of playfully exaggerated pride. “I learned to stitch in Guinea.”

While gushing about Amani (she says the phrase “I loooove Amani!” frequently), she explains that when she worked in Guinea as a seamstress, she was paid very little and had to use the money to support others. However, since working at Amani, she has saved enough money to finally pursue her dream. “My life is different (at Amani) because I get money on my own! I am saving my money; I am buying my own machine!”
The machine Patricia wants to buy is a non-electric, treadle sewing machine and she hopes to open her own tailor shop. “I will be boss Patricia,” she says, and erupts into a fit of giggles.  Sewing machines run about $130 USD, and Patricia has a good portion of that amount saved already.

A typical business might be upset to hear that one of their best employees will soon have enough money to leave and start a venture of her own. But Hannah Lenore, Country Director of Amani Liberia, has a different purpose:

“We measure our success not on our profit-gain, but rather how we can impact lives. My hope is to see many people like Patricia come through Amani and learn the necessary skills to provide for their families. Seeing women gain confidence, grow in their faith, and have their dreams flourish is more profitable to us at Amani than any dollar amount.”

When Patricia was asked if she would like to share anything with Amani fans who might be reading this blog or purchasing Amani items, she sat up straight and became suddenly serious, her usual spirited demeanor strangely absent. “Thank you very much. You make me to get my own machine.”


An Amani Liberia Christmas Party

Amani Liberia recently hosted a Christmas party in our center. The members, their families, and several local Amani friends all arrived on a recent Saturday to celebrate the birth of Christ and a remarkable 2012.

The evening was celebrated with a contribution from each member. Victoria and Annie G. spearheaded preparation for several delightful Liberian dishes (rice, vegetables, fried chicken, and cake). Izetta, an aspiring singer, wrote a song entitled “Amani Liberia”, which she performed in sunglasses, a lapa suite (skirt and top cut from the same bright African cloth), matching heels and a spunky attitude. Austin and Ellis played the drums. Theresa, the evening’s host, introduced each event with a smile and quiet confidence.

Each Amani member was presented with three gifts; a sewing box, a Christmas bonus from Amani supporters across the United States, and a live chicken from the Redland Baptist Church of Maryland, Virginia.

Theresa, the MC
Ophelia and part of her family
Hannah, Liberia's Country Director, with Wilson, Ophelia's son
Annie with her chicken, a gift from Redland Baptist Church (Maryland, Virginia)

Here is what Amani Liberia members have to say about their Christmas party:

The party was fine*! I just want to thank the Amani family for the chicken and letter I received.”- Regina

“Amani is good! The gift you give me is fine! The chicken---its good. I finished eating it.” -Yei

“The Christmas gifts satisfied me, satisfied my whole family. My daughter loved the box. I will raise the chicken so it can get big and provide for me. I will get more and add them up. I will never eat my chicken---it will provide fine-fine babies.” -Ellis, who gave his sewing box to his daughter

“The Christmas party was too beautiful! When I opened the envelope, I was happy about what was inside! I carried my chicken home. Christmas day, I will eat it! Amani is too good. Tell the Amani family hello!” -Patricia

 “I enjoyed the celebration because we sang songs, they divided up food, nobody went home without food, everyone ate enough. My children were very happy. I am happy for my chicken. I will eat it, but not now---I will feed it until Christmas. I will put my earrings, my chain, and small-small things in my box.” Ophelia

 The Christmas party brought joy to my life. I was very proud. I was very happy to receive the gifts among people that day. (The sewing box) is a joyous box! When I set it on my table it, it beautifies my room! I loved the chicken gift. My father came to visit, so I killed the chicken and we ate it. I explained that Amani gave me the chicken and he was really happy. My father is proud of me and very happy I am at Amani.” -Darlene

*”fine” means “beautiful” or “lovely” in Creole-English