Tuesday 30 November 2010

Samuel Update

Back in March I posted about a little boy called Samuel who had worms and was malnourished (see here). Here is a picture taken of him taken today, as the photo shows he's very much recovered now!

He's still not keen on me, but I did manage to get a smile out of him today.

Saturday 27 November 2010


In less than two weeks 8 of the children who visit me have tested positive for Malaria (the p-falciparum type), luckily they have all been able to receive treatment and are on the mend now.

There are a lot of mosquitos around at the moment, so I'm being extra careful to ensure there are none inside my net at night. I was tested for malaria a few days ago and I'm happy to say that the result was negative!

I'm lucky that I have a mosquito net to sleep under, most of the people I know here don't have one and can't afford to get one. I need to investigate on the internet to see if I can find any charities who will provide mosquito nets free of charge to people who can't afford them

Friday 26 November 2010

Goodbye / Hello

The first team of this campaign left us last Friday and we have a new team arriving tonight.

The first team did a lot of block making at the City Of Rest in Grafton in the mornings. David (our construction manager for the team) took a drum to the site and found a builder who could play, so each morning was started with the team singing worship songs with the builders accompanied by the drum - it was a lovely way to start the day and I hope we continue it when we have other teams working on the site.

Most afternoons we visited other partners in and around Freetown, an especially nice afternoon was spent with the residents of King George VI Home for the Elderly, decorating bags that one of the volunteers had provided - each resident got to keep their bag. It will be such a shame if the King George VI home is relocated as our teams get to build relationships with the people there due to having our meals in the compound - something we won't be able to do if (or more likely when) they move.

The team that arrive today are 6 retired teachers from the UK who will be working with Sierra Leonean teachers in 5 of the schools in Kissy

Monday 15 November 2010

RIP Mr Coker

I have more sad news - Mr Coker, the husband of the matron of the King George VI home, passed away on Saturday 13th November. He had been poorly for a few months.

Mr and Mrs Coker had been together for 44 years - please pray for Mrs Coker and her family at this sad time.

Friday 12 November 2010

Before and After - Men's Dorms


The team have cleaned and painted part of the men's dormitories at the current City of Rest location in Fort Street in town.

The before and after photos are of one of the bedrooms, we will be returning next week to finish off and paint the ceilings.

A few of the residents helped us with the cleaning and painting. One of our volunteers is going to provide them with buckets, brushes and cleaning products so that they can keep the rooms clean.

Monday 8 November 2010

A Very Long Night

The team arrived last night just over an hour late, so we were hopeful of getting the ferry. We raced to the ferry port, only to be told that the ferry had just left. Another ferry would run only if there were over 30 vehicles waiting for it - unforunately for us there were only 17 vehicles waiting. We had missed the last ferry and there wasn't another one running until 8.30 the next morning - 10 hours later!! We decided to drive around the peninsular. It was a very bumpy drive that took us around 6 hours - we finally arrived in Kissy and the team were able to check into their hotel around 5am! I think most of the team found the whole night to be a bit of an adventure.

We thought it best to give the team the morning off, so postponed the start of our day to 12 noon. The team will visit the City of Rest site at Grafton today and also visit Hastings Ladies Polio Association. We'll all meet or dinnner tonight before sorting out the aid and gifts the team have bought with them.

Tomorrow the team will get the chance to get started on some work at the site - making blocks.

Saturday 6 November 2010

Back in Africa

After the sponsorship trip I had a 4 week break in the UK and came back to Sierra Leone just over a week ago.

I've spent most of the past week getting ready for the team of Mission Direct volunteers who will be arriving tomorrow. On the staff team with me are Penny and David, and another Penny who will be arriving with the team tomorrow. We are just about ready for the team now and will be going over to the airport tomorrow afternoon to meet the team when they arrive in the evening. We will have 10 volunteers on the team and they will be continuing work on the City Of Rest site at Grafton.

I've been very suprised by the weather, it's rained almost every night since I arrived - I think it's the first time I've encountered rain here in November in all the years I've been coming. It's nice though as the nights are much cooler than usual which makes it much easier to sleep. The days are still hot and sunny, but not nearly as hot as it usually is in November.

Thursday 23 September 2010

Mary - Getting Better

Mary was released from the hospital a few days ago and, as you can see from the pictures below, is much better now. Her arm is still being treated, but her back and chest have healed well.

Looking much better

2 days after leaving hospital

Saturday 18 September 2010

RIP Mr One Tooth

One of the King George residents died during the night. I don't know his real name but everyone here affectionately referred to him as 'One Tooth' (because he only had one tooth).

As I arrived at work this morning his body, washed and wrapped in a sheet by some of the workers, was loaded onto a handcart and wheeled out of the compound to be taken to the cemetery for a paupers burial.

I was impressed by how respectful most of the children were, they just stood silently and watched One Tooth go on his way.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

RIP Mrs Bangura

The wife of Pa Saidu, one of the security guards at the King George VI home, has passed away.

Anyone who has been to Sierra Leone with Mission Direct will know Saidu - he's the larger of the security guards.

Please pray for Saidu and his family as they come to terms with their loss.

Saturday 11 September 2010

RIP Sally

Sadly, Sally, one of the King George VI residents passed away yesterday. She had been suffering from cancer of the liver.

I've had some lovely chats with her and I'll miss seeing her at King George.

She is the second resident to have passed away since I arrived a couple of weeks ago - this time of year is tough for the old folks.

Friday 10 September 2010

More About Mary

It's just over a week now that Mary has been in hospital. When I went to see her at the hospital her burns had been dressed well and she was tucking into a big bowl of rice - I took that as a sign she was feeling better.

She is having her burns dressed daily which takes a whole tube of cream - the hospital don't have the cream so we are buying it from the pharmacy which it proving costly. I have also had to buy the gauze for the dressings, the blood tonic and the painkillers. The doctors have told Mary's father that she is expected to need treatment for another three weeks. The worst area affected is her chest and under her arm.

I'm going to try to pop into the hospital at the weekend to see her, I'll post another update when I've seen her.

Friday 3 September 2010

Mary - Update

Mary's parents bought her to see me again yesterday. She had had her burns dressed at the pharmacy, but she was in an awful lot of pain and not all of the burns were dressed, some were open and I was very worried that they might get infected..

Her parents agreed that she should go to hospital so she was taken to the UMC hospital in Kissy, who transferred her to the PMCH hospital, who then transferred her to the Connaught hospital. She was admitted to the Connaught hospital yesterday afternoon.

I'll visit tomorrow to see how she's doing

Thursday 2 September 2010

Hot Water

This is Mary - her Dad is one of the security guards in the compound where I live.

Mary's Mum was heating some water for cooking and Mary managed to tip the pot over herself. They took her to a nurse who put mauve medicine on her. She had awful blisters - one by her armpit was the size of a tennis ball!

The following day we arranged for her to go to a pharmacy to have the burns dressed properly. Her Dad has promised to keep me updated with how she is getting on.

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Hosetta Abdullah - Building Update

This is the progress on the building project at the Hosetta Abdulah school for special needs children.

As you can see the roof is on!

Amela - Looking Great!

I went to check up on Amela yesterday and he is looking far better than I expected!! He was alert, smiling and talking and he looked so much happier and healthier than the last time I saw him in June. He has to continue taking medication for TB for at least another 2 months so hopefully he will continue to imrpove.

As you can see he has a wheelchair - it's so much better for him than sitting on the floor all the time.

I'll be going to see him again on Saturday so that we can arrange for him to have some physiotherapy on his legs - the hospital have recommended it so we are going to give it a try.

He has asked me if he can go to school when he gets well!!

Thursday 19 August 2010

Growing up isn't easy

This made me sad.....

A girl of around 14 came to see me at the team house we use in Freetown.

She was in tears and was in a real state because she thought she was dying. She had stomach pains and was bleeding.....

.......it was her first period but no-one had prepared her for it - the poor girl had no idea what was happening to her body.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Back to School

I'm going back to Sierra Leone at the end of this month to work on the child sponsorships and also to start preparations for a teacher training team that will be coming in November.

For the sponsorship I will be paying the school fees, getting the uniforms made and making sure the students have everything they need to start the new school year. I'll also check the students report cards from the last school year so I can see their progress and make sure they are attending school. We have in the region of 70 students sponsored now, and plenty more needing sponsorship.

I'll be joined by a retired head teacher for a week in September and together we'll be making preparations for a team of retired teachers from the UK who will spend 2 weeks in November training teachers in some of the schools we work with in Kissy. The picture here was taken in one of the schools that we will be working with. 5 classes are taught in the one room (with class six being taught outside on the veranda). This picture was taken during the school holidays - it is usually slightly more tidy than it appears in the photo. This will be the second teacher training team this year - the first one in January worked in schools on the west side of town.

Monday 16 August 2010


Good news! Amela is being released from hospital today. His treatment for TB has gone well, he is eating a lot better and his breathing is easier.

I'll be back in Freetown in a couple of weeks so as soon as I can I'll be visiting him to see for myself how he's doing, I'm so looking forward to seeing him again.

He has asked for a wheelchair (he spends most of his time on the floor), if anyone has an unwanted childs wheelchair that they would be willing to give to him please let me know.

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Amela not Pamela

I thought Pamela was a funny name for a boy - it's Amela!

He has been admitted to the PCMH Hospital. He has been diagnosed with Tuberculosis which has affected his chest and spine. He is going to need treatment for a least 6 months and will be kept in hospital for the next 2 months. The damage to his lungs and spine is such that he won't recover completely but we're hoping he can be made more comfortable and that his pain can be controlled. I've arranged for a lady who knows him to stay at the hospital with him.

There isn't anything that can be done about the damage to his legs and bottom, but although they look bad he doesn't seem to be in any pain with them.

The hospital only provides medical care, so I got him a bucket (for water for washing), bowl, spoon, cup, clothes, washing powder, soap, blanket, flask and I've left money for food and water for him to cover the 2 months that he'll be in hospital. The hospital charge 1,000 leones (around 20p) for each bucket of water from the tap. We've also paid for his medication for the next 2 months.

It seems like a good hospital, it's bright and clean and the staff are professional. Amela has a bed next to the window so it's light and airy and I hope he'll be comfortable there.

I went to see the lady who runs the children's home that he lives in today and she was worried about taking him back after the two months in case others contracted the TB, but everyone else there has been vaccinated. I'll stay in touch with her and she how she feels about taking him back as time goes on.

I leave Sierra Leone in 2 days to return to the UK for a while, so I'll be going to see him tomorrow to say goodbye and make sure he has everything he needs. When I asked yesterday if there was anything he wanted he said "biscuits"!!

There is good news, the hospital routinely test for HIV and his result was negative.

Monday 14 June 2010


This is Pamela, he has been living at Mahanaim home for disabled children since March. He has never been able to walk so when he was younger his parents took him to a country doctor where he was treated by fire - he now has scars from the burns going from his bottom all the way down to the backs of his knees. The fire treatment didn't work.

His chest and back are deformed, but we don't know if he was born that way or if it's a result of bad treatment he had received due to his disabilities. He had a lot of pain in his chest and regularly struggles to breathe.

Today I took him to the satelite hospital in Rokupa where he was referred to see a pediatrician at the PCMH hospital in Fourah Bay Road. I'm waiting to see if there's anything that can be done to make him more comfortable.

Saturday 29 May 2010

HA Building Project

The team started work today on the new residential building at Hosetta Abdulai Special Needs School. The picture on the left below was taken last week and the one on the right was taken as the start of the work this morning. Although most of the team had travelled all the way from Texas and arrived just last night they all got stuck into the work this morning. It will be good to see how much they can achieve in the week that they are here.

Friday 28 May 2010

Airport Again

Today we have a team of 11 arriving from Texas and 1 Brit, I'm at the airport now with Brian (the Mission Direct construction manager) and Ted and Tom - two team members from Texas who came with the Canadian team and will leave when this next team leave, they have been working with Brian to get the project ready for the team to start work tomorrow. The team will be working on a new residential building at the Hosetta Abdulai Special Needs School.

The team will be here for just a week so we have a packed schedule, starting tomorrow with a morning working at Hosetta Abdulai followed by the afternoon at Hastings for the opening ceremony for the new accommodation building at Hastings, then after dinner we'll be back to the Hotel 5/10 to sort out the aid the team have bought with them.

The Canadian team who left last Friday got a lot of work done at the City of Rest site in Grafton. Here's a photo of how the work was progressing while they were here.

When the Canadian team (plus the 3 Texans!) came their flight was 7 hours late arriving - we were expecting some moans and groans, but they were great right from the moment they arrived.

Saturday 22 May 2010

Baby Mariama

This is Mariama - her Dad bought her to see me last Monday. She was 3 months and two weeks old and her mother had died 5 days before. She was in a bad way so I arranged for her to go to hospital. She was very undernourished and the hospital advised on how best to feed her, but they wouldn't admit her until she was 5 months old (I still don't know the reasons for that).

Later the same day her Dad bought her back to see me and the change in her was amazing - she was much more alert and looked so much better that I was hopeful she'd make a full recovery.

Sadly on Wednesday Mariama died, her Dad had fed her then put her down for a sleep and when she was checked on later she'd died.

I feel so sorry for Mohamed (the Dad). In just one week he's lost his wife and his only child. He came to see me on Friday and is obviously devastated - what could I say to someone who has lost so much?

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Airport Duty

Brian and I will spend most of tomorrow at the airport waiting for our new team of volunteers to arrive. We have a team of 11 coming.....8 from Canada (1 who was here 2 years ago) and 3 from the US (2 who have been twice before and will be staying on with us for the next team too).

Tomorrow night we will stay with the team at a hotel near the airport then bring them across to Kissy on the first ferry on Wednesday morning. It's much nicer to arrive on the ferry during the day, and I should think that after travelling all the way from Canada and the US the team will be ready for bed by the time we meet them at the airport.

We have a full schedule planned for them and we're looking forward to having a team with us again - it's been a month since our last team left!

Sunday 25 April 2010

Rough Justice........

There seems to be a lot of thefts and burgularies in the area I live in Freetown at the moment and when thieves are caught the treatment they get is harsh to say the least.

A thief was caught a couple of weeks ago trying to break into a small shop near where I work - he was had battery acid poured on his privates, had his back burnt by a charcoal iron, was cut on his head and his legs with a machete and lastly had rags forced into his behind with a stick.

Last night as Brian and I were on our way to get something to eat there was a big crowd just in front of the NP (the local petrol garage that we go to to eat sometimes), there was a naked man laying on floor in a bad way - it was the same thief who had been beaten a couple of weeks ago. It turns out he's been wandering around town ever since then.

I've talked to a couple of Sierra Leonean friends about the man and their response was the same 'he's a thief and he deserves it, don't feel sorry for him'.
I felt terrible leaving the man there - but didn't know what else to do.....if I'd tried to help there was a good chance the crowd might have turned on me.
I had my eye open for him this morning and if he was around I was going to get someone to take him some clothes, but he wasn't there and no one that I've asked has seen him today. We'll see if he shows up again in the next few days.

This isn't the only instance of thieves being beaten recently - in the week when the man I've mentioned was caught there were at least two others in the same area given similar treatment. The reason people give is that if the thieves are taken to the police they are easily released and no action is taken.

Update - Hassan's Eye

I finally have an update about Hassan, the boy who got hit in the eye with a stick last November! He was due to have an operation in December, but I lost contact with his father and didn't know what had happened to him.

Hassan came to see me yesterday with his Dad - he's still having treatment on his eye, which doctors have advised needs to continue for another few weeks, after which he can have an operation which may save his sight.

I have a friend who is medically trained who is going to go to the a hospital appointment with Hassan next Tuesday so he can let me know what he thinks will be the best way forward for Hassan.

He still seems to be in a lot of pain with his eye, but it's very hard to get information directly from him because he's so shy he just won't speak! He did tell me that he's able to see light now and that he wasn't when the accident first happened - his father is hopefull that his sight will be saved.

Sunday 11 April 2010

Baby Fatmata Update

Baby Fatamata's Mum brought her back to see me today - the spots on her back have healed up completely and she's looking really well now......she's also a lot happier, although you wouldn't know it from this photo!!

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Admin Block

Work is coming on on the Admin block at the new City of Rest site in Grafton. Work began digging the foundations at the beginning of March and you can see in this photo how much progress has been made since then.

There are a team of 19 volunteers from the UK here at the moment and they will be working at the site, they will help with the ongoing work on the admin block, finish painting the generator house and be doing some land clearance while there are here.

Sunday 28 March 2010

African Style

I thought it would be nice to have an African outfit made for church and special occasions, so I chose some material and got the Hastings Ladies to make it for me.

I'm not sure yet if I'll be brave enough to wear it in public - all the people who were there when I tried it on laughed at me!

Friday 26 March 2010

New Arrivals

My friend Brian who is the Mission Direct construction manager for the next three teams is arriving tonight - he's going to transfer from the airport by water taxi so I'll pick him up in Aberdeen tonight. It will be good to be working with him again. While I'm waiting for Brian to arrive I'm going to treat myself to a meal at one of my favourite restaurants....Alex's.

On Sunday we have a team of 19 volunteers arriving from the UK, mostly from the Leeds area - it's going to be a really tight squeeze fitting everyone into the team house at King George at mealtimes....there will be 21 of us altogether!
While the team are here we will be continuing work at the City of Rest site in Grafton and we're also planning to paint a classroom at the Hosetta Abdulai special needs school.

I hope Brian gets some sleep on the plane as I have a very busy day planned for us tomorrow so we can be ready for the team when they get here on Sunday.

Baby Fatmata

This is Fatmata - her Mum bought her to me as she has lots of yellow headed spot type things on her back and head. I had no idea what they were so sent her to the doctor, she has been given medication to take over the couse of the next two weeks, so I've asked her Mum to bring her to see me again in a few days so I can see if there's any improvement.

The poor little thing, her back looks so sore!!

Thursday 25 March 2010

Salman's Fan

Salman lives in the King George VI home for the elderly in Kissy - he was shot during the rebel war and is paralized, he still has 6 bullets in his back that cannot be removed as to do so could cause further damage or be fatal for him.

His electric fan had recently broken, he let us know that he REALLY needed a new one. One of our Mission Direct volunteers purchased a fan for him with a donation given to her by friends in the UK, here's a very happy Salman receiving his fan.

A small gesture like this can mean so much to someone like Salman and help to make his life a little more comfortable.

Wednesday 24 March 2010


Samuel's Mum bought him to see me. He'd not been eating, had lost a lot of weight and had bad diarrhea. I arranged for him to see a doctor who diagnosed worms and malnutrition. He was put on a drip for a couple of days and his mother was given a diet for him to follow.

He didn't like the look of me at all - until I took his photo and showed it to him, then he warmed to me a little.

I've asked his Mum to bring him to see me again next week so I can check how he's getting on.

Tuesday 16 March 2010

Hosetta Abdullah Painting

The team has spent the last two afternoons cleaning and painting a classroom at the Hosetta Abdulai school for children with special needs. These photos show the progress we have made. We will be carrying on the work with future teams until the whole building is finished. (I did the brown paint!!)

Monday 15 March 2010


This is Fatmata, she's a pupil at the Hosetta Abdulai school for special needs children. I was so pleased to see her when I visited the school as I'd not seen her since last June - she had been back to her village and I didn't know if she'd be coming back to Freetown again. Sadly her mother has recently died so at the moment her grandmother is taking care of her.

Fatmata is deaf and dumb, but manages to communicate and make herself understood. Once she tracked me down and came to visit me at the office at King George - I have no idea how she managed to find out I was there!

You can't really tell from this picture, but she has the most stunning bright blue eyes.

Today the team has spent the afternoon cleaning and painting one of the classrooms as the Hosetta Abdulai school, we'll be going back there again tomorrow to finish the work on the classroom.

Friday 12 March 2010

Freetown Monument

There is a new monument in Freetown showing important people from Sierra
Leone's history. It's not open to the public yet, so we were very lucky to be able to have a guided tour of it yesterday.

Because it's not officially opened yet we weren't allowed to take any photographs - the photo here shows Major Moses Kargbo the head of the chaplaincy for the RSLAF (Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces) with his uncle who is also a village chief in front of the famous cotton tree. The Major arranged the visit for us.

Friday 5 March 2010

Preparing for the team

Dear me it's been a busy few days!! I arrived late on Tuesday night and it's been non-stop getting ready for the team to arrive on Sunday since then.

I was really suprised when driving into town on Wednesday it started raining! I wasn't expecting rain in March! Rather than clear the air though place was even hotter once the rain cleared. It always takes me a while to get used to the heat when I come back.

I have a team of 5 arriving on Sunday including Ronnie who will be the contstruction manager for that team....everything should be just about ready for them by the time they arrive!

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Going back to SL

I was due to go back to Sierra Leone this Sunday, but there was a mix-up with my ticket so now I'll be travelling on Tuesday. By the time I go back I'll have been in the UK for a month, and the time has just flown by. Its's been great to have some time with Bob - we celebrated our second wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago!

Bob enjoyed his time out is Sierra Leone, and is planning to come back for another visit soon (but not soon enough!!)

When I get to Freetown I'll have just 4 days to prepare for the 1st team who will arrive on 7th March - that's going to be a VERY busy 4 days for me! I have to plan the meals, do the team shopping, sort out the first aid, visit all the projects, go over the staff roles, book the hotel, get the team house cleaned and ready, buy the team water, make sure the vehicles are running ok, take rice to Mahanaim, change money, plan the team schedule.......etc.etc.etc

During the time that I'm in SL I'll be hosting 4 teams - a team of ladies, followed by a youth team from Leeds, then a Canadian team and lastly a team from the US (McKinney, Texas). Brian will be joining me for some of the time as contruction manager and I'm very much looking forward to working with him again.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Accomodation and Chapel

This is how the accomodation and chapel blocks at the City of Rest at Grafton were looking when I left Sierra Leone at the end of January.

We have relays of teams coming between March and June to continue work at the site.

The teams will also be visiting the current City of Rest site in town to meet the residents and see the conditions they are currently living in.

Monday 22 February 2010


When Mohamed came to see me he didn't need to tell me that he had toothache.....just look at his poor swollen face!

He had to have a course of antibiotics for an abcess before he was able to have the offending tooth removed (which he very kindly gave to me!)

A lot of the kids complain of  toothache and during the last three months I was there I arranged for 5 of them to have teeth removed (with their parents or guardians permission of course). It costs between £10 and £20 depending on how difficult a job it is, but this is an amount that most families just can't afford so the children usually have to put up with the pain for much longer than they should have to.

Friday 8 January 2010

Building Progress

The Christmas team worked hard at the site - most days making more than 200 blocks!! The main building is slowly taking form and it's exciting to see it growing. What you can see in the photo on the right will eventually be the accomodation blocks and the chapel.

The team visited the current City of Rest in Fort Street and spent an afternoon there singing and chatting with the guests.

Thursday 7 January 2010

Freetown Traffic

Freetown traffic just seems to get worse and worse. Bob and I went over to the west for a meal last night and it took us over 2 and a half hours to get there. Today we had to go into town to do some preparation for the team who arrive on Sunday and in total we were in traffic for over 3 hours! At the moment I feel like I'm spending most of my time stuck in traffic!

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Happy New Year!

Bob and I had a lovely new year at Number 2 River Beach. We stayed in a bungalow on the beach. We walked a lot, took a boat trip, rode jet-ski's, swam and ate a lot of nice food - it was a lovely way to start the year.

We're back in Kissy now and I'm preparing for the teachers team who will arrive at the weekend.

Jill left just before new year as planned to spend her last three weeks at International Dove in Regent helping in the school there.

Bob will be leaving this weekend - his time here has gone so quickly!! It's been great for me to have Bob here and for him to see the country and the people that I love so much. I don't think it will be his last visit.