Saturday 5 November 2016

A Funny Old Week…..

I arrived back in Freetown with my niece a week ago today after a short break in the UK, it’s been a bit of a strange week……some good, some not so good……

The journey was mostly really good – I usually prefer to travel alone, but this time I travelled with Carla (my niece). We had over 5 hours to wait for our connecting flight in Casablanca, as it was Carla’s birthday we shared cakes and coffee while I sang happy birthday……repeatedly. I like Casablanca airport, it’s cheaper than most and the cakes are lovely! Carla kindly let me sit next to the window for both flights, we had a nice young man alongside us for the first flight who joined in with us when we said grace before eating our meal. The lady next to Carla on the second flight wasn’t quite so nice and dumped her bags and her smelly feet under the seat in front of Carla, in Carla’s space – but Carla managed to hold her tongue…I’m not sure I could have been so gracious.

SL Nov-Dec 2016 Photos 025

Part of my morning routine is feeding the chickens, we have: Marjory, Deirdre, Mabel, Ethel, Gladys, Eeny, Meenie, Miney, Mo, Bernard, Snap, Crackle, Pop, Bang, Sprout, Spud and Augustus. Augustus is the biggest cockerel I have ever seen and he doesn’t like me, he really doesn’t like me. He tries to intimidate me, when I’m facing him he’s not so bad, but as soon as I turn my back he attacks me. I’m not proud to admit that he scares me!

I have a bit of a problem with my eyes, my eyelids and undereyes are really itchy and a bit scaly from where I keep rubbing them – the eyes themselves are ok, but the surrounding skin is red and swollen and not very pretty. My favourite doctor in the world, Dr Koroma, has prescribed me some tablets that I have to take three times a day so hopefully whatever it is will clear up soon, I had the same thing in September, but it cleared up on it’s own accord that time after a couple of weeks.

The weather is odd for November. I’ve always found November and March to be the hottest months, so I was bracing myself for some serious heat, but it’s much cooler this year. We have had a lot of storms, thunder, lightning, rain, wind – the whole shebang – fortunately mostly at nights so it’s not affected work.

I was saddened to find out that some of our sponsored boys played truant to go to the beach, putting their sponsorship in jeopardy – I’m sure their sponsors aren’t going to be impressed to hear about it. For two of the students it’s their last year in school and they are working towards their end of school exams – they need all the time in school they can get and any missed schooling will affect their chance of passing the exams. I’m so sad to learn that for these few boys their education isn’t as important to them as I thought it was.

SL Nov-Dec 2016 Photos 050We’ve enjoyed catching up with ‘our kids’ and finding out what they are all up to. It was lovely to see Baby Freecall looking so healthy and happy. We’ve been able to help them buy a mattress for Aunty and Freecall. Aunty wants to start a small business selling various items from a portable box so she doesn’t have to keep asking us for money and can become self sufficient. The startup cost will be around £75 – if anyone is interested in helping let me know!!

At the moment we are preparing for our team of volunteers who arrive on Sunday to help with our mission – exciting!!

Friday 28 October 2016

New Website

It's been an exciting week for Transform Salone - after a great Trustee Meeting making plans for future projects our official website was launched.

You can check it out here:

Monday 10 October 2016

Vehicle News–Urgent Request

It’s become apparent in the last few weeks that I urgently need to sort out my transport situation in Sierra Leone. I have an old RAV 4 at the moment, but it is costing so much to keep it on the road that it’s time for it to go. I’ve had it patched up and it’s running at the moment, so I’m hoping to find a buyer for it soon…..which leaves Transform Salone in urgent need of a new vehicle.

Crime is on the rise in the city recently and for our safety and peace of mind we have to have a reliable vehicle.

I’ve been looking around for a while and have found a car that I think is the right one for Transform Salone – it’s a Toyota 4 Runner in good condition with reasonably low mileage, just imported from the USA.

I’m going to put in all the money from the sale of my car and I’ve had some donations from very kind friends towards the purchase of a new vehicle, but we are still $5,000 short of the agreed price. Because we are so desperate for a vehicle, I have gone ahead and paid a deposit on the car with the faith that the rest of the funds will come – if we can’t raise the $5,000 by 1st November we’ll lose both our deposit and the new car.

I’d like to appeal to all friends and supporters to consider if you are able to help us with funds towards the car – any amount would be so much appreciated.

There are many ways to make a donation, the easiest being directly into the Transform Salone bank account:

Bank: Barclays, Name: Transform Salone, Account No: 43452867, Sort Code: 20-57-44

or by sending a cheque made payable to Transform Salone to:

Transform Salone, 61 Admirals House, Gisors Road, Southsea, Hampshire, PO4 8GY.

For alternative ways of making a donation email me on

We very much appreciate your prayers and ask that you continue to pray for us and the work we are doing in Sierra Leone.

Thursday 1 September 2016

Getting Ready for School

My main task at the moment is getting our 80+ students ready to start the new school year in just over a week.

My spare room has been taken over to store all the supplies that we’ve bought in readiness for the students…….bags, ledgers, pens, pencils, rulers, rubbers, sharpeners, geometry sets, calculators and graph paper. With so many students it’s a huge amount of stuff.

I have a number of steps that I have to go through for each student……

First of all I collect and check their report card for the last school year to see how they did over the year, if they promoted, what their attendance and timekeeping has been like and take note of any comments from the teachers.

Next I meet with each student individually along with their guardian and we review their progress together and make a plan for the upcoming school year – after this I provide the funds for the school uniforms and shoes.

Once I’ve seen the new uniforms and shoes then we pay the school fees directly to the school. When the enrolment is complete then we give each student their school bag and supplies. After that all is left is to wait for the school to issue the text book list for the year so we can buy the essential text books for each student.

This weekend I’m having our annual parents and guardians meeting to go over the sponsorship scheme, talk about what they can expect from us and what we expect from them. I’ll go over the code of conduct and the guardians will have a chance to bring up any issues or worries they have. The parent’s meetings are usually very interactive and lively!!#

Writing it all out like this makes it seem a bit daunting, such a lot to do in such a short space of time!! I’d better get one with it!!

Thursday 25 August 2016

Freecall Update

Back in May I posted about a poorly baby called Freecall (click here to see that post).

If we are friends on Facebook you might know that the Aunty who looks after Freecall was evicted from where they were living a few weeks ago when her landlord repossessed their place and knocked it down to make way for another building. This left Aunty, her daughter, and Freecall with nowhere to go and they ended up staying temporarily in an unfinished building with a leaky rook in the height of the rainy season! All of their belongings got soaked and Aunty was scared that Freecall would get sick again in that environment. Fortunately, through the generosity of kind friends, we were able to help them rent a room to live in.

I saw Freecall and her Aunty today – she is looking good! She’s put on weight since I last saw her and is much more alert and interested in what’s going on around her (she was especially interested in trying to eat the cross I wear!!). She has a bit of a cough, but apart from that she seems fine.

She’s seems happy and contented – and I loved spending the afternoon with her.

Tuesday 23 August 2016

Back to Freetown

I travelled back to Freetown at the weekend after spending a wonderful few weeks over the summer in the UK with my husband.

The journey didn’t get off to the best start when I couldn’t check in online (I was had booked through an agent I hadn’t used before so was a little nervous there might be something wrong with the booking). I got to the airport nice and early……and just as well I did as I was told at check-in that the flight was overbooked and not all booked passengers would be able to fly – luckily I was one of the first to check in. The overbooking was the reason that online check-in wasn’t available.

I sat next to a nice lady from Ghana on the first flight, which was to Casablanca, we had a good chat about anything and everything and played a word game together on my tablet. The few hours I had to wait at Casablanca airport passed quickly as I spent some time chatting to a friendly group of ladies from Senegal who were travelling for their Haj. Everything went smoothly on arrival into Freetown, my luggage arrived and my friend was there waiting for me with my ticket for the watertaxi.

Not a lot has happened since I arrived, I had arranged to look at a vehicle yesterday and spent most of the day waiting around for that………it never did arrive and I found out today that someone else has bought it, so it obviously wasn’t the one for me.

Tomorrow I’m going to the school that I work out of to see my friend, the headmistress, and some of the sponsored students will meet me there so I can catch up on how they are doing.

It’s the rainy season here now, so it’s much cooler than when I left in June. Yesterday the rains were very heavy, buy it only rained for an hour or so today.

The next few weeks are going to be very busy – I have more than 80 students to get enrolled for the new school year starting in September as well as arranging for new uniforms, shoes, bags, books, supplies…..the list goes on and on – but before I can do any of that I need to go over their school report cards for the last school year and meet with each student and their guardian to check their progress and see how they are getting on and if any changes need to be made related to their educational needs.

Your prayers, as always, are vey much appreciated!!

Saturday 6 August 2016

Quick Update

Well, time seems to have got away from me somewhat this summer – it’s over 2 months since I last posted!

I’ve been spending some time in the UK with my husband, enjoying our roof garden, having nice meals together and generally enjoying each other’s company.

I had a day trip to Dublin with my niece for my birthday in July where she treated me to lunch on my first visit ever to a Hard Rock Cafe!

I had my head shaved to raise money for Transform Salone – just under £300 was raised. I quite like the bald look, but my husband isn’t so keen.

Transform Salone won a place in the 2017 London Marathon through the charity ballot, which I’m really excited about: every year my husband and I go to London to watch the marathon and cheer on the runners and next year we’ll be cheering on someone running for Transform Salone!! We don’t know yet who will be running for us – the place will go to whoever pledges to raise the most money.

I’m due to head back to Freetown in a couple of weeks – with the new school year starting in September it’s my busiest time of year. I need to check all the student’s report cards, get their uniforms, shoes, bags, supplies, text books…….the list goes on. I’m hoping for good results from our students this year, I know we have one boy who came second in his class and another who was top of his year for the whole school……so things are looking good so far!

Apart from popping back to the UK for a couple of weeks in October, I’ll pretty much be over in Freetown for the rest of the year. My niece is coming over to join me for November and we will be hosting our first joint Transform Salone/Mission Direct team while she is with me – if that goes well I’m hoping it will become a regular team each year.

I’m always in need of working, unlocked second hand phones, so if you have one lurking in a drawer somewhere give me a shout and I’ll take it off your hands!

Thursday 2 June 2016

Water Shortage

There is a water shortage in some parts of Freetown at the moment, our area included.

When I met up with Jan and Nancy at Gatwick airport a few weeks ago to travel to Freetown together they asked if there is a shower in their rooms – there most certainly is a shower but unfortunately there has been no water since we arrived and the well is dry. (well, in Jan’s room it’s more of a tap sticking out of the wall but it does usually have running water in it).

A few of our containers for collecting water
I have two big water tanks in my compound that collect rainwater, one feeds the house and the other is for general compound use. We have had two big storms since we arrived during which the tanks collected enough water for a couple of very welcome showers but apart from that it’s been bucket washes all round and as I type the tanks are empty again. Usually when the tanks are empty we can top them up from the well, but with the well being dry at the moment that’s not an option.

Every couple of days my security go with all the water containers they can find and queue at a local stand pipe to fetch water. We have to ration the water we are using for washing and flushing.

Usually we would have enough water to last us through the dry season but unfortunately a few months ago a visitor accidently left a tap open and we lost 1000’s of litres of water in one day – it’s now that we are suffering from that mistake.

Jan and Nancy have been great and just get on with things without grumbling, they soon got used to using the buckets – but I’m sure they’ll be pleased if we get a couple of nights of rain to top the tanks up.

Some of our drinking water supply
For drinking water I get bagged water which, until the tanks are topped up, we are also using to boil for tea and coffee. 20 bags of water which contain between 250ml and 500ml cost around 35p, the same price as just one small 500ml bottle of water – you can see why I chose to buy the bags, they work out to less than 2p each!!!

It feels like a storm might be on the way, the temperature has dropped a little and there is lightening in the sky so it might be our lucky night.

I will try to remember to never again take water for granted.

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Baby Freecall

Freecall having malaria treatment
This is baby Freecall. She’s an orphan, her Dad died of Ebola and and her Mum died giving birth to her. She is around 9 months old but is the size of a 2 month old – she’s tiny.

She is being bought up by her aunt who is struggling to provide food for her. I recently put an appeal on facebook for financial help to provide formula for her and through the generosity of friends we are now able to get the food she needs. Unfortunately though, she was already malnourished and has recently been suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea and has lost the little bit of weight she had. Her Aunt bought her to see us last week and we took her to the Adventist hospital at Waterloo to be looked after by our great friend, Dr Koroma.

When the doctor saw her he admitted her straight away and diagnosed malnutrition and malaria - she was also starting to have convulsions and was very sick. She’s been at the hospital for almost a week and is has vastly improved since she’s been there. To start with she was very lethargic and hardly had the energy to cry…….now she is as bright as a button, very aware and hollers when she needs attention! She loves to be cuddled and doesn’t like to be put down. She is still having trouble keeping her food down and the doctor is investigating the cause of that.

Looking Brighter!
When I first met Freecall her aunt came to me to give her to me as she just couldn’t manage to provide for her. I can’t take her, I know virtually nothing about babies and I come and go to England regularly……it just wouldn’t be fair to her. Her aunt loves her and wants to take care of her and now that we are able to help with formula and her other needs she is happy to provide the maternal care that she needs.

Please, if you can, pray for this little one and send good thoughts and blessings her way – she’s had a tough start in life but with help we can give her a brighter future.
If you would like to give financially towards her medical bills please get in touch.

Monday 30 May 2016


I have a bit of company with me here in Sierra Leone at the moment - Jan and Nancy, who both sponsor students under the Transform Salone sponsorship scheme are spending three weeks helping me on our projects.

We have been really busy since we all arrived in Freetown together just over a week ago. We have been to the SDA hospital in Waterloo three times once to visit the doctor and the other two times to visit a baby we have admitted there for treatment for malnutrition and malaria. Today we also admitted a girl who had been bitten by a dog.

Most afternoons we are at the school I work out of and while I’m catching up on office or sponsorship work Jan and Nancy are helping the sponsored students with their reading or the times table.

This past Sunday we attended church at the Murray Town Army Barracks where my friend Colonel Kargbo, the Chief Chaplain of the Armed Services was preaching. In the evening we treated ourselves and went to The Hub restaurant.

It is lovely to have some company and both Nancy and Jan are a great encouragement and support to me. I so appreciate them and the help they are giving me and I hope this will be the first trip of many!

Saturday 12 March 2016

My Day

This was my day today:

  • Hand washed my clothes in cold water……it seems someone has borrowed my washboard, so that job was harder than it needed to be
  • Reminded my security to pump water from the well into the tanks that feed the house so there will be water in the taps for my guests arriving this weekend
  • Walked to work escorted by one of my kids – this young man had a hernia operation a couple of weeks ago so we are spending the days together so I can keep an eye on him
  • Made and shared the usual lunch of bread and luncheon meat for 20
  • Put together most of the remaining information needed for the upcoming Transform Salone website
  • Received a visit from the Granny of one of the sponsored students along with a gift of bananas and a cucumber. She looks upon me as her daughter and always, always brings me a little gift. She reminded me that her monthly bag of rice provided by her grandson’s sponsor is due soon
  • Chatted with around 15 of the sponsored students, collecting information for the reports for their sponsors
  • Gratefully accepted a lift home from my neighbour
  • Ate porridge for tea
  • Cheered along with the rest of the neighbourhood when the electricity came on, then rushed around like a loony putting everything on charge
  • Sent my daily postcard to my husband (using the app STANNP – if you spend a lot of time away from home try it, it’s great!)

All that is left is to make a cup of camomile tea then head off to bed.

No sickness, death or drama – all in all not a bad day!

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Reading Group - First Session

I and a group of six students held the first session of the new reading group today!

We are reading a book called Jack Pepper by the author Sarah Lean, it’s one of the books donated by my dear friend Nancy.

We covered the first two chapters today. The students took turns reading a page or two, then we’d discuss any new words, then reread the passages again before moving onto the next section.

This group is made up of students whose will be taking exams in the next year or two - they can read quite well, but just need practice reading aloud and some help with pronunciation and the meanings of more obscure words.

I really enjoyed the session and I think the students did too. They paid attention, asked lots of questions and took it seriously, I was very impressed by how interested they were and how they all helped each other when someone struggled over a word or pronunciation. I’m looking forward to the next session in a few days time.

Monday 15 February 2016

Easy Fundraising!!

I've been introduced to a very easy way to raise some funds for Transform Salone - it's called easyfundraising and it's a portal for online shopping where registered retailers provide a donation to charity for online purchases (at no extra lost to the shopper!).

I'm asking everyone I know to do their online shopping through using this link: to allow Transform Salone to receive donations from the retailers.

I signed up for it just one week ago and already over £50 has been donated to Transform Salone because of online purchases I've made - these purchases include: Ebay shopping, National Express coach bookings, changing home broadband provider and booking a hotel through There are over 3000 vendors who are signed up with easyfundraising - every online purchase I've made in the last week has bought in a donation for Transform Salone.

There is no cost to sign up for this, and the items purchased cost the same as they would anyway - so you don't need to spend any more money. To sign up you just need to provide a name, email address and set a password

If you would like your organisation to also benefit from easyjustgiving please let me know and I'll send you a link you can use to register that will also earn even more donations for Transform Salone for the referral.

Please, please please - help to support Transform Salone by signing up today to easyfundraising using this link:

Thank you!!

Friday 12 February 2016


It dawned on my recently that very few people that I know in Sierra Leone read for pleasure - off the top of my head I can only think of two: Mr Sullay my old driver and a young lady who helps around my compound sometimes.

It's also very apparent that a lot of our students struggle with reading.

So.....I decided it would be a good idea to start a kind of book club, I thought I could gather a small group together a couple of times a week to work our way through a book together - I'm hoping it will not only help our young people to improve their reading and understanding of English, but also to foster a love of reading in them.

Then I came across a stumbling block - books are quite dear aren't they? I figured I needed five or six copies of each book in order for the book club to be effective, but I just couldn't afford it.
I mentioned it to a couple of people then put it on the back burner while I tried to figure out a way to get some suitable books.

Nancy, one of our sponsors, went to her local Waterstones and just look what arrived today:
42 fabulous books!! I can't wait to get started on reading these with the kids. A massive thank you to Nancy, this is so generous! Also a big thank you to Nancy's local Waterstones who were so helpful and even added to the selection of books!!

I'd also mentioned my idea to Adele, one of the Transform Salone co-founders - and we spent a lovely afternoon trawling charity shops looking for books that would be good for reading one-on-one with the kids. Look at this lovely selection that Adele has provided, thank you Adele!!

So, now we have six sets of six books for the reading groups and nine books for one-on-one reading! I'm so happy!!

I will be starting the reading group next week!! My niece is coming to Sierra Leone next week and I've already roped her in to help with this - it's going to be great!!

This is just the start - I'm hoping to build up a small library of suitable books, if you would like to donate some, please do let me know.

I need books suitable for children and teenagers - have a look at the books in the photos to get an idea of the kind of books we need.

I love books and I love reading - and I'm hoping our students will learn to love it also.

Thursday 14 January 2016

RIP Little One

I started writing this in December on the day that we lost Marwen, but I just couldn't write it and I've just found it in my draft posts folder........
(The photo here was taken two weeks before he died)

Early afternoon on 10th December 2015 our lovely boy Marwen passed away at home.

I went to see him at home to see how he was doing and desperately hoping that his Dad was over exaggerating how bad his condition had become.

His Dad wasn't exaggerating - Marwen was semi conscious, moaning in pain and his breathing was laboured. We talked about taking him to the hospital which was about a 15 minute drive away, but his Dad didn't want to move him. We tried to get a nurse or doctor to come to the house to give him some pain relief but that wasn't possible either.

I sat with the family all afternoon and at some point we realised that Marwen wasn't moaning anymore although his breathing was still laboured. He didn't wake up.......he never woke up again.
He slowly slipped away in our arms that afternoon.

I stayed with his tiny body while the family called 117 (the number that all deaths had to be reported to at that time) and made arrangements for his burial.

Less thank two hours after he died he was buried.

I'm heartbroken at the loss of this precious boy and I'm angry at the waste of a life that might possibly have been saved if treatment for him had been available here in Sierra Leone.