Friday 30 October 2009

Start of a New Campaign

I'm going over to Freetown this coming Sunday to get ready to host the teams for the new campaign, we have a new staff member (Jill) who will be working with me and we are travelling out together. The first team, a group of 13 British volunteers, will arrive a week later.

We're hoping to start work on building a chicken farm at the City of Rest site in Grafton with the first team and we also plan to paint the new accomodation block at Hastings.

We're going to have a very busy first week before the team arrive, among other things we have to visit all the projects, open up (and clean!) the team house, arrange a full program to keep the team busy, have the vehicles serviced, employ in-country staff etc etc etc
.......but before I can do any of that I need to get packed - no-one who knows me well will be at all suprised to find out that I haven't started yet, I'm hoping that Bob will do what he usually does and sweep in tomorrow and sort it all out for me.

I need to get to the shops to stock up on essentials for my trip - jammy dodgers, mini cheddars, chewing gum, pasta shots - you know....all the important stuff!!

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Ramatu 2009

Things have changed a lot for Ramatu this year. When I arrived in Freetown in March I went to see Max who runs the Epilepsy Association for Sierra Leone, he told me that Ramatu's family had stopped feeding her again and that she was in a bad way. He knew of a home for disabled children in Grafton called Mahanaim that he thought might be suitable for Ramatu. I went with Max to meet the Melrose, the lady who runs the home and between us we arranged for Ramatu to go to live there.

The photo above on the left was taken a couple of days after Ramatu arrived at Mahanaim in March, the one above on the right was taken in in June after she'd been there around 3 months.

The first time I saw Ramatu this year was a couple of days after she was taken to live at Mahanaim - she was very underweight and malnousrished.

She settled in there quicky - this photo was taken a week or so after she arrived.......that day was the first time I'd ever seen her smile!!

These photos of Ramatu wearing a scarf were taken in April. Week after week I was able to see her slowly improve. After about a month she started talking - she has a very quiet voice (it hasn't been used much during the years she was kept locked in a room on her own) but she can make herself understand......she calls me Alice! She has put on weight and is now able to stand and can even walk a little with a frame. Ramatu's best friend is another girl who lives in the home called Mariama who has polio and has been in the home since she orphaned as a baby in the war. Mariama helps Ramatu with washing and dressing - they get on really well and are always together!!

Since Ramatu moved into Mahanaim her mother hasn't been in contact or visited at all - it seems her family have washed their hands of her.

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Sponsorship Trip.....and getting ready to go back

When I arrived in Freetown at the beginning of September it was raining......and it continued to rain for pretty much the whole trip - I've finally experienced Sierra Leone in the wet season (allbeit the tail end of it). The whole place was a lot less hectic and a lot more subdued than usual - this is probably partly because of it being the wet season, but also partly because it was Ramadan.
I was told that the flooding was particularly bad this year, with people losing their lives in a landslide in Kissy Brook and also deaths relating to the flooding in Kroo Bay.

The trip to work on the child education sponsorship program went really well - while I was there I was able to arrange the schooling for over 40 children, as well as having uniforms made and providing shoes, schoolbags and school supplies for each child. This included the children of our Sierra Leonean staff, some of the children of staff at the City of Rest and some children from the area we work in in Kissy.
I have plenty more children who need sponsors - email me if you want more information!!

I'm going back over to Freetown in November as Country Manager for Mission the teams of short term volunteers who will come over between November and January. This time I'll have a lady called Jill working with me - she visited Sierra Leone on a short term trip in 2006.

We're having a 15 seater minibus shipped across for use in-country, and we still have the landcruiser - I don't know if the teams will be relieved or disappointed not to be crammed into a poda poda!

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