Saturday 29 August 2015

Expecting Company!!

I'm so excited that one of our sponsors has booked a flight and will be joining me in November to help with the sponsorship scheme and spend some time with the children she sponsors!!
I had quite a few friends and supporters who had planned to visit over the past year to help out over here in Sierra Leone, unfortunately because of Ebola they weren't able to come.

Also, two other lovely people are planning to come in November too!!
At the moment there are no known cases of Ebola remaining in Sierra Leone. The countdown to being declared Ebola free is well and truly underway.
If anyone else would be interested in coming and lending a hand at any time contact me (click here to email) and we can discuss what you would be doing and possible dates, costs etc.

There is always plenty of work to do on the sponsorship scheme, also helping our students with their English, or helping out at one of our partners here in Sierra Leone - there are lots of possibilities! If you sponsor a student you'd be able to spend time with them and meet their families.
As well as working we can go and spend the night at one of Sierra Leone's wonderful beaches, watch the sunset over the sea, spend the evening putting the world to rights around a campfire and then wake in the morning to the sound of the sea.

Thursday 27 August 2015

How It All Started

When I first started coming to Sierra Leone I helped a few of the kids by paying for their school fees, buying them bags and getting uniforms made for them......then a few more kids came along......and then more. It got to the point where I was helping with the schooling of 11 children and the number seemed sure to grow. I realised I needed help and had the idea of a sponsorship scheme.
The one thing I got asked for more than anything else was to help children with their schooling......and many of the volunteers who came on two week mission trips with the charity I was with at the time (Mission Direct) wanted to help the children they met - so, with the support of my Regional Director at Mission Direct, I started an education sponsorship scheme. It grew and grew and took more and more of my time until I decided it was time to leave Mission Direct to focus on the sponsorship scheme.........that's when Transform Salone was born. Since setting up Transform Salone we have expanded the sponsorship scheme to include vocational training for young adults and school leavers.

The first four boys that I started helping are all still in the scheme, three of them are now in senior school. The other boy dropped out of the scheme for a couple of years due to family problems, but he restarted in primary school earlier this year.

We now have over 70 students who are fully sponsored for their basic education or vocational training. If it hadn't been for the boys (I should really say young men) in the photos below I doubt any of it would have happened.
Here are the first four boys I started helping all those years ago:
And here they are now!
These four boys are fortunate to be sponsored for their education, but I know many, many other children and young adults who desperately need assistance to allow them to continue in school or progress onto vocational training. If you would be interested in sponsoring the education of a child or young adult please get in touch by following this email link and I'll send you some more details about the scheme.

Tuesday 25 August 2015

How About Some Respect?

I love Sierra Leone and I love the Sierra Leonean people - I am a guest in this wonderful country and I feel privileged to be able to call it my home....if I didn't like it, if I didn't like the people, if I didn't respect the culture I wouldn't be here...... why is it some people think it's ok to come over here, supposedly to help and then criticise and ridicule the country, the people and the customs? Why do some people think that their way is always better? Why is it ok to trample over peoples feelings?

.....even worse than the things I've mentioned above are the foreigners that add to the corruption in the country......surely this isn't something that people who come in the guise of trying to help the country should be doing? Don't call it a tip, or a handshake - call it what it is.......a bribe. I've been reading a blog by a foreign aid worker that at least 4 times mentions bribing officials to make their life easier - it's wrong and, regardless of the fact that a lot of people in Salone do bribe, it's illegal.

Maybe I should just stop reading other people's blogs!!!!

Saturday 22 August 2015

RIP Hannah

Everyone in Freetown seems to be talking about the gang rape and murder of a young woman at Lumley Beach area of Freetown last week. In reports her age varies from 17 to 19 years old, graphic photos of her abused body have been shared widely on social media. She was left on the beach, semi naked, covered in sand, dead. I've seen the photos and wish I hadn't because I can't get those awful images out of my mind.
I'm hearing a lot of speculation about it.....Why was she on the beach? Was she a sex worker? Is that an anklet she's wearing and false eyelashes, Was she asking for it? Had she been drinking?
What do the answers to any of those questions matter? If she had been wearing a short skirt, if she was a sex worker, if she was tipsy.........she didn't deserve to be used in that way, heartlessly killed and discarded. She was just a girl with her whole life ahead of her and that precious life has been snuffed out.
This week women's rights supporters held a peaceful march through the capital followed by a candlelit vigil to pay tribute to the young lady.

The government have offered a reward of $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators - I hope the people who did this are caught, to prevent them doing the same thing to another young girl.

Friday 21 August 2015

STANNP Postcards

I have a new favourite thing........a postcard application called STANNP - it's probably been available for ages, but I've only just stumbled across it and I'm having so much fun with it.
When I first came to Sierra Leone I used to write a lot of letters to my husband, but they often didn't arrive in the UK until after I did and I more or less stopped writing, now I just seem to write a couple of times a year....usually when someone I know is returning to the UK and will post the letter for me.
STANNP is so easy, it costs between £1 and £1.50 depending on the number of credits I purchase on the application, then I just select one of my photos, type in a message, add the address and BINGO! A postcard is printed off in the UK and posted to my hubby and he receives it a couple of days later.
My husband loves receiving them and whenever I take a photo I think he'll like I can just quickly load it onto my phone, make a postcard of it and send it to him - it's great!
When you sign up for it you get one free credit (enough to send a postcard to a UK address, it's 2 credits to send elsewhere) - if you are away from your family a lot I recommend you download it and give it a try.

Lost Luggage......again!!!

I arrived back in Sierra Leone last night - I came with Brussels Airlines as their flights are much cheaper than the other options at the moment. The flight was pretty uneventful, I sat next to a man on the way to Brussels who was going to take part in a shooting contest in Lithuania . I had a wait of about 4 hours in Brussels Airport, but with the free wifi and the sunbed-like loungers it was quite comfy. The flight to from Brussels to Freetown was really quiet - I had the whole row to myself, I watched the entire season 5 of Big Bang Theory which kept me entertained.
On arrival in Sierra Leone, as has become normal, we went through the hand washing stations (which is now soap and water rather than chlorine) and a temperature check......then onto the conveyer belt to claim the luggage, where I waited, and waited and waited.....until it stopped. Both of the bags that I'd checked in failed to arrive.....again - last time I flew with Brussels Airlines in February one of my bags was missing on arrival, this time neither of them showed up. I filled in the missing luggage forms, which takes AGES as there were about 10 of us in the same boat all trying to report out missing luggage. I'd already paid for a trolley, and I was super-miffed to have wasted money on it and not have anything to put on it.
They said that my bags might arrive on the next flight on Sunday and if they do I should have them back Monday or Tuesday.
Luckily I have a lot of clothes here, so it's not as big a problem as it might have been.....but all my work files are in the bags so I can't get started on the work until the bags get here - it looks like I'll be having a few days off!
My friend who works at the airport had pre-purchased a ticket for the water taxi for me and that took me to Aberdeen where my Sierra Leonean son was waiting for me.
I noticed a massive difference while driving through Freetown - the streets were busier than I've seen them for a long time, now that a lot of the restrictions have been lifted people are making the most of it.
It's really nice to be back and I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone over the next few days.

Friday 14 August 2015

Facebook Page for Transform Salone

Now that Transform Salone is a registered charity we can start fundraising in earnest and letting more people know about the work we are doing.

We've setup a Facebook page - follow the link below and give us a 'like'!!

Link to Transform Salone Facebook Page

Sad Sad News

I am sitting here in total disbelief at the terrible news that I've received......I've been trying to get my head around it since I heard a few days ago and still can't quite believe it.
There is  a young boy of about 12 who I've helped on and off with his education over the years by paying fees or providing school supplies from time to time.
He has a sister that I used to see around, playing with her friends or fetching water for her family - I haven't seen her for a while and I'd wondered where she'd got I know.....
A couple of months ago she was sent to live with her Grandmother in the provinces to go to school there.......I was told a few days ago that she has died, she was beaten to death by her Grandmother.
I just don't know what to think or say......

Sunday 2 August 2015


We have cause for celebration........
Last year I left Mission Direct to concentrate on the educational sponsorship scheme and my community work in Sierra Leone.
Myself and three friends who also have love for Sierra Leone setup TRANSFORM SALONE, a new organisation to help people out of poverty through education.
I'm absolutely delighted that this week TRANSFORM SALONE has been granted charitable status by the Charity Commission - we are now a registered UK charity!!!