Thursday 26 March 2015

This and That

This last fortnight has been a funny couple of weeks - schools are supposed to be opening in a few weeks, but many parents don't want their children to go to school until there is no more Ebola......and for the ones that are going back we are waiting on the schools to start enrolments and publish their book lists. I've been checking with the schools every couple of days, because I'm at the point now that I can't do anything else on the sponsorship side of things until we know for sure when the schools will reopen.

The main topic of conversation here at the moment is the Vice President first being expelled from leading party, then going into hiding and requesting asylum from the US Embassy, then being sacked! Who knows where that's going to take us!! There is quite a lot of upset about it all, I just hope and pray that however it is resolved that it will be done peacefully.

A young man that I've been helping for a few years with his schooling is working on a burial team - to say I'm worried about him would be an understatement. Not only is there the danger associated with the job, but he's also being shunned by friends who won't go near him since they found out about his job. Ah, I feel for him. It's such a brave move for someone so young. I an praying that he will remain safe from the virus.

The new Ebola case numbers are still fluctuating daily, it's definitely a lot better than it was in November/December, but it is not over yet. I have seen two burial teams in the last few days collecting corpses - it's such a shocking, scary thing to see.
Sierra Leone is to be locked down for 3 days from 27th March, with everyone staying at home. Teams will visit each household in an effort to identify any unreported Ebola cases.
I've stocked up on groceries - Aunty won't be coming during the lockdown so I'll be cooking for myself. The shelves were quite bare by the time I got to the supermarket, but I got some basics......definitely enough to see me through to the end of the lockdown. I swapped my empty cooking gas cylinder for a full one, got plenty of phone credit and topped up on drinking water - I'm all set!!

I'm getting the spare rooms ready in the hope that friends will visit later in year......once we've seen the back of Ebola. When I rented the compound I had at least seven people who were planning to visit, who understandably had to cancel. I fully understand that people are unable to come at the moment, and I think that's sensible......but it has left me with a slight worry about how I'm going to cover the rent when it is due in August. I know that God will provide, but sometimes......when I think too much it does worry me. I have at least four friends who I know will visit as soon as they are able, so I'm getting their rooms ready.
I had a nice catch up with Mr Sullay, my former driver - he doesn't change and he always makes me laugh! We've spent so much time together over the last few years that we know each other so well and have grown to be good friends. We had a wonderful time catching up as, although we often talk on the phone, we'd not met up for a few months. One big worry he has at the moment is that he's not working - something that will hopefully change in the near future.
If you feel able here are a few thing I'd appreciate prayer for:
  • People will cooperate with the lockdown and it may signal the beginning of the end of Ebola
  • The schools will reopen only when the time is right in a way that is safe for the students
  • The country will remain stable and peaceful as political issues are dealt with
  • My worries about the rent for the compound my be eased
  • My young friend on the burial team and all those doing this dangerous job - that they will stay safe and not be shunned
  • That Mr Sullay will find a job so he can provide for his family

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Boiling Water Burns - Healing Well

I could hardly believe my eyes when I went to see how the boy who fell in the boiling water was getting on - he is healing so well! These photos were taken three weeks after he had the accident.

He is still in a bit of pain, but nothing like it was initially. The doctor has continued to visit him at home to change the dressings and clean the wounds and to provide pain killers.

I was so worried that the burns would get infected, but between the doctor and the boy's mother they have done a good job of looking after him.
His family have decided to keep him out of school until September when he will be going into Class 5 of Primary school.

Thank you to everyone who has lifted him up in prayer - please pray for his continued recovery


Saturday 21 March 2015

3 Day Lockdown

It seems that the rumours are true for once and there will be another 3 day lockdown in Sierra Leone from 27th to 29th March.

It's not too much of a hassle for me - I'll just stock up on food and use it as a chance to get some jobs done in the house, catch up on admin work and finally get started on the vegetable garden I've been planning.
For others that don't have the luxury of being able to fill their cupboards in preparation for the lockdown, for people who live day to day, it won't be easy. Most people I know buy their food daily - what they earn in a day is used to buy food that is cooked for that evening's meal........what are they going to do when they aren't allowed to leave their homes for three days? How will they feed their families?
We will be providing rice for as many of our families and blind beggars as possible to help them through the lockdown.
If you feel you would like to help toward the rice distribution a donation can be made using the 'donate' button at the top of this blog - for other ways to make a donation please email me.

For £13 we can provide a 25kg bag of rice to a family. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Luscious Locks

I promise that this isn't an advertisement and I'm not getting paid to say this!!

I wanted to recommend Lush solid shampoos and conditioners to my friends who travel (and those who don't too!!)
I first tried them a couple of years ago after spotting them in a Lush shop while out shopping - I thought they sounded like a good idea. Decent shampoos are expensive here in Sierra Leone and to take enough with me to last a few months takes up a lot of my baggage allowance - and when a bottle splits in the suitcase it makes an awful mess!!

So I bought a shampoo bar, a conditioner bar and a couple of the nice little tins to keep them in.

Wow! I was impressed - the shampoo lathers up really well and leaves my hair feeling really clean. The conditioner has rosemary in it, among other things, and leaves my hair soft, easy to brush and smelling really nice. The conditioner can either be rinsed out, or left in the hair - it doesn't leave my hair looking greasy if I leave it in
A shampoo bar lasted me around three months when I had long hair - I guess it will last even longer now my hair is short. A conditioner bar lasts around two months.

So far I've tried Ultimate Shine, Squeaky Green, Godiva, and the most recent one I've got is Jason and the Argan Oil. Most of the shampoos smell lovely - except the Soak and Float one that is for flaky, itchy's a bit whiffy, but I've not tried it.

They are really handy for travelling, they can be carried in hand luggage, no spillage, lightweight and take up hardly any room.
I can't recommend them enough - have a look on

Friday 13 March 2015

To School or Not to School

I had a post all typed up and ready to publish about the schools reopening here in Sierra Leone on 31st March.......then I heard this morning that the reopening of the schools has been pushed back two weeks until 14th April!
I'll just edit the dates and post away......

It's been announced that the schools here in Sierra Leone will reopen on 14th April .............but the number of confirmed Ebola cases is still in double figures most days.....with the majority of cases being in Western Area Rural - which is where I and most of our sponsored students live.

BECE students were to start back at school on 16th March and sit their exams on 24th March, this has also been pushed back but I'm not sure by how much yet.

The plan is to have one long term that will run through to July - but I don't see how a while year's teaching can be fitted into 2.5 or 3 months.
 I would love to hold a parents meeting to discuss what best to do about our students, but that's not possible because public gatherings are currently banned here. I am meeting with the parents, family or guardians of each sponsored students individually and talking it over with each of them. The general consensus so far seems to be:
  • the families of the primary school children want to wait until September for their children to go back to school
  • our BECE (Basic Education Certificate Examination - the exam students sit at the end of their third year of secondary school) students will sit their exams on the date yet to be announced  (was to be 24th March, but this has been delayed)
  • for the other secondary school students we are going to monitor things over the next few weeks and take each one on a case by case basis....but unless the Ebola numbers go down drastically I think a lot of the families will keep their children out of school until September
I want the decision of when the students go back to school to be made by the students and their families. The students need to feel safe in school and the families need to be able to relax when their kids are in school and not spend all day worrying if they will get sick by attending school - I will go along with whatever each family decides.

Sponsorship donations that have been made while the schools have been closed have been added to the student's accounts and will be used to provide extra lessons and additional text when they do finally go back to school they will be well equipped to catch up on the schooling they have missed.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Update - Boiling Water

I called in to see Alhaji, the boy who fell in boiling water yesterday. A local doctor has been coming regularly to change his dressings, so the family decided against taking him across town to the hospital to try to get him admitted there.
The burns are looking so much better than I expected and the boy himself is in much better spirits and doesn't seem to be in so much pain - although his mum told me he screams the house down when the doctor changes his dressings and he even tried to run away when he saw the doctor coming yesterday!!
Alhaji was able to sit with us while I chatted with his parents and he's able to move around much more than he could a week ago. He even walked me part of the way back to my car when I left!
Honestly, I'm amazed at how well it is healing - thank  you so much for all the prayers for this young man and please keep them coming!
He needs some more medicine - his Mum is going to get the list from the doctor for me tomorrow so I can get what he needs. I'll be seeing him again once I have the medicine he needs and will continue to check on him every couple of days.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Psalm 121

'I lift up my eyes to the hills
 Where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
 He will not let your foot slip
 He who watches over you will not slumber;
 Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
 The Lord watches over you
The Lord is your shade at your right hand;
 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
 The Lord will keep you from all harm
He will watch over your life;
 The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.'

 Psalm 121
Psalm 121 is one of my favourite chapters in the Bible, I first came across it just before I started doing mission work. I was quite worried about a lot of things at that time - but after this chapter was given to me I never worried about my safety.
I truly believe that God has called me to be in Sierra Leone, I am only here because I believe that this is where God wants me to, knowing that, I also know that He will keep me safe.

Reading this Psalm gives me great peace and comfort - knowing that the Lord is watching over me and protecting me gives me peace of mind.

At the time when a lot of people were leaving Sierra Leone because of Ebola I knew that it was right for me to be here. Of course, I take all the necessary precautions to keep myself safe......but not once have I considered leaving because of Ebola. I feel protected, I feel safe.

Saturday 7 March 2015

Dr Koroma - Appeal for Assistance

Our wonderful Dr Koroma of the Adventist Hospital at Waterloo has been accepted to study for a diploma in Reproductive Health in Developing Countries at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the UK.

Dr Koroma is appealing for help with the tuition fees and travel costs.

If anyone feels they are able to help Dr Koroma financially with this please let me know and I will put you in direct contact with the Doctor. If you want more information about the costs involved please contact me and I'll provide the breakdown of what is needed. He is hoping to be able to take up the offer later this year.

If Doctor Koroma is able to attend this diploma programme it will be a huge benefit to the hospital and the community he works in.

Once the Ebola crisis is over there are plans that the new building at the hospital will be utilised as a maternity ward, the knowledge that Dr Koroma would gain in the programme would be invaluable to saving the lives of many women and their babies.

Already many pregnant women chose to go to Dr Koroma rather than the nearby maternity hospital because his reputation is so good.

Please, if you are able, consider supporting the Doctor so that he may take up the offer to study at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Wednesday 4 March 2015

There's A Man In My Boot!

So, a funny thing happened to me on the way home from the office,
I stopped off at Shell Junction to pick up a couple of bundles of water, the sellers seemed even more desperate than usual crowding around the car, vying for attention, trying to be the one I chose to buy water from.
I bought from the first person to approach the car and as he was loading the water into the car one of the other vendors jumped into the boot of my car and said he wasn't getting out unless I bought water from him too.......well this was a selling approach I'd not come across before!!
I was a bit shocked and bemused at first, then I saw the funny side of it - luckily by the time I finished laughing my unwanted passenger decided it was time to move along and hopped out and wandered off in search of another customer!!
I'm still chuckling about it now......and still can't quite believe the cheek of the man - he sat there peering at me between the headrests as if he had every right to be there!!

Tuesday 3 March 2015

I'm So Blessed

I'm sitting in the classroom that I'm going to be using as an office for the next few weeks as we lead up to the schools reopening and I've just been reflecting on how blessed I am to be able to be here.
Two of our sponsored boys Mohamed and Abu are here keeping me company and John and Sailu who live here are also here. The five of us shared a meal of luncheon meat and bread and now Mohamed is having a little snooze.
It's very peaceful here today, just the five of us. I know that when word gets around about where I am basing myself it's going to get a lot busier and a lot more noisy......and I will enjoy that too when it does......but for now it's nice to enjoy a little quiet time with just a few kids.
 Abu is one of the reasons that I started off the sponsorship scheme - I started paying his fees along with 3 other boys back in 2008, then I kept adding more and more students, when I got to 11 students  I realised I needed help and that was how the idea for the sponsorship scheme was spawned. The original 4 boys are all still in the sponsorship scheme and have sponsors.

Abu will start in Junior Secondary School when the schools reopen - he did well in his National Primary School examination last year so is able to go to the school that he wants to attend.
I am so fortunate to have been able to watch Abu and so many of out other students grow up and absolutely blessed to have been able to share so much of their childhood with them......and to continue to do so. They have definitely enriched my life and I can't imagine life without them in it.

Monday 2 March 2015

A Day of Two Halves

Today has been an interesting day.......
The First Half
This morning I was invited to meet some UK medics that have been working in Sierra Leone and talk about why I'm here and what I do here. I was SO nervous, but I think it went well. They were all really nice and a few people were interested in sponsoring students - which is fantastic!!
People tell me that I'm brave to come here, but really my risk is minimal and I feel I have to be here with the people that I've grown to love over the years.
The people I met today are amazing, they have chosen to come here, to help rid us of this sickness, possibly putting themselves at risk, to help perfect restored my faith in humanity to meet people so selfless.
After my short talk we all had lunch and I had some time to chat and catch up with an old friend that I'd not seen since 2008!!
I'm going to help them by distributing aid that they have collected but were unable to share out.
The Second Half
This afternoon was a totally different kettle of fish........I went to the house of Alhaji the boy who fell in boiling water over the weekend (click here to see the post about him). The doctor who had promised to visit did come after I'd left yesterday, and was due to return again this morning, but still hadn't arrived by 3pm.
Alhaji was pretty much the same as yesterday, still in an enormous amount of pain - but even so, when I arrived  he stood up to say "hello aunty". He wasn't dressed today, but rather had a sheet draped over his shoulders which I think is probably better for him.
I decided that it would be better if I went to the hospital first without the boy to see if there was a chance of admitting him, rather than put him through the pain of the journey unnecessarily. When I got to the hospital they told me that it was now an Ebola holding centre. I carried on into town to the big government hospital and found the children's ward - they told me that if we took him there they might be able to admit him.
I've also called Doctor Koroma to ask him to advise me what he thinks will be best for the boy - hopefully we'll be able to talk in the morning.
I'm hoping that tomorrow we'll be able to either get Alhaji admitted to hospital or work out a way to ensure he gets the treatment he needs at home.
On a side note......some things I don't think I'll ever get used to, nor do I want to - when I drove past the mortuary today there was a hearse with a team of people in full PPE unloading a body.........Ebola may be on the wane, but it's still very much here.

Sunday 1 March 2015

Boiling Water

One of our sponsored boys had an accident yesterday, he was visiting his friends and he slipped onto a pan of boiling water. I was visiting near where he lives today and some of the other children came to tell me.

His burns are really bad - his Mum took him to the hospital yesterday and they dressed the burns, but they couldn't admit him as the hospital isn't taking admissions due to Ebola. A doctor had said he would visit them at home today to check on the burns, but up until 4pm he still hadn't arrived and the family can't get through to him on the phone.
I'll talk to his Mum tomorrow and if they still haven't been able to contact the doctor I'll take him to the children's hospital and try to get him admitted there.....I think the children's hospital has reopened.
I'm worried that if we can't get him admitted to hospital that the burns will become infected - as you can see gauze has been put over the burns but they will get dirty so easily. It's going to cause so much pain to get that gauze off!!

The majority of the burns are on his back, but he also has them on his heads, arms, and bottom.

Please pray that we will be able to get treatment for him, and also that he will heal and be relieved of the enormous pain he is in.