Monday 11 September 2017

Parents Meetings

Before every school year starts I hold parents meetings with all the parents/guardians and students to go over any issues and let them know of any changes to the sponsorship programme.

Soon after I arrived back in Sierra Leone after a wonderful few weeks in Portsmouth with my lovely husband I scheduled a parents meeting. I was very disappointed that an hour after the start time only one parent and seven students had shown up out of the 70 or so I was expecting. Sometimes the seeming lack of interest of the families and students can be disheartening.

I can't start the work of enrolling the students for the new school year until we've held a parent's meeting, so all the work I had planned for the week after the failed meeting had to be put on hold.

Parents meeting, take 2 🎬 was a lot more successful than the first try!! Almost all the students were represented by a parent, guardian, or family member, and most arrived early!!
At the start of the meeting there were a few people I'd never seen before who must've seen people gathering and decided to join in, we politely explained that they couldn't stay for the meeting!!
We kicked off the meeting with Muslim and Christian prayer and then jumped straight in to go over the issues, review the code of conduct and make appointments for the individual meetings I have to have with every student.

We talked about how the parents need to be involved in their children's education, about the behaviour problems of some of the students.......and how with me being a foreigner I'm not going to wait until 7pm for a 3pm meeting!!!

The meeting went well - so well I couldn't get people to leave after the meeting had ended!!

One student did turn up 3 hours late and was politely (as politely as I could manage) asked to make an appointment for another day!

Monday 4 September 2017

Dangers of Facebook

We sometimes run sessions with our kids in Sierra Leone about the dangers of Facebook, I can never be sure if they take the advice or just think I'm being am old fuss pot.
Imagine my shock when I logged into Facebook and some naked pictures of someone I know showed up on my timeline......but they weren't photos of one of the kids.......these were photos of an adult you'd expect to know better!!!! We'll call him Mr X.
He had send nudie photos to someone he thought was a pretty young French lady, turns out it was man hiding behind the profile and he was now threatening to ruin Mr X unless he paid them $2,000.
I have no idea how Mr X dealt with it, the photos were removed and the French lady's profile is no longer there.
How embarrassing though, I'm embarrassed and to be honest a bit disgusted that I saw the photos.
I would imagine that Mr X is embarrassed as quite a lot of his friends had commented on the photos before they were removed.
I wonder if Mr X's wife saw the photos or is aware of them (oh yes, Mr X is a married man who you'd have thought would have no business sending photos of his privates to young ladies!!).
Even worse, what if his kids saw them??
This is a perfect example though of why people need to be careful who they make friends with on Facebook and not to believe that everyone is who they say they are.
One thing is for sure, I'm not looking forward to seeing Mr X again in a hurry now that I've seen so much more of him than I'd ever have wanted to!!!!

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Money, money, money

Money is the root of all evil, I'm convinced of that. People who haven't got money become desperate for it and people who do have money want more!!

A lot of the recent problems I've been having and hearing about in Sierra Leone have been caused by money. People come here wanting to help and one thing they get asked for a lot is financial help. It can be very intense and uncomfortable for the people being asked and I think people sometimes feel like they can't say no, but I think giving money too freely can cause many more problems than it solves.

Some of our students tag onto charity groups and ask for money. Sometimes money is given to these youngsters without their parents knowing - three problem that this can cause spring to mind:
  • Firstly it can create a dependency on the foreigners, the kids get used to being given easy money and any little problem and they'll be back asking for more.....they will more than likely expect you to send money once you've returned home too.
  • Secondly the young people have no idea how to manage money, they might buy a pair of trainers or a phone while Mum is at home with no food to feed the family.
  • Thirdly it can create discipline problems within the family, the kid goes home and mum or dad tells them to fetch water......and get the response, 'you can't tell me what to do, you aren't the one that takes care of me' (some of the parents have told me this happens)
Its great when people come to Sierra Leone to help, and I don't want to put people off from coming......but if you've got teens and younger asking for money stop and think to yourself 'would I want a foreigner I've never met giving my kids money without my knowledge'. If there's a genuine need talk to the families, get advice from people who live in country and understand the culture a little more, try to think of ways to assist that can help the families to become self sufficient.

I'm not criticising anyone, just trying to think of ways we can really help, really make a difference and from what I see and hear daily I really don't think giving money - especially to kids - is the answer.....I've made plenty of mistakes myself and I'm sure I'll make more. I've been ripped off more than once too!!

I know one alone doesn't solve problems, it creates them.

Sunday 18 June 2017

My Day - Registration

This was my registration day:

3:30 woken by the man who goes around the neighbourhood calling out to wake people for their sokoli meal

4:00 still awake as now the mosque is calling people for prayer

6:00 woken again, this time by the rain coming through the window straight onto my bed

07:45 called Bob then fed the chickens, my favourite way to start the day

8:15 left home to go and register, as every foreigner has to as part of civil registration

9:30 arrived at the school where the registration takes place and joined the queue

12:30 finished registration process (and chatted to some lovely people while I was waiting!!). One of the registration questions was what time was I born, I don't think I've ever been asked that before.

14:15 arrived back in my area and stopped to pick up a MoneyGram. They said the code wasn't recognised so spent a while working that out

16:00 left MoneyGram place after counting all the funds to make sure it was correct. The largest note here is 10,000 leones which is about £1.13. Unfortunately they had run out of 10,000 notes so the whole amount was in 5,000 notes (about 56p).....there were a lot of notes to count!!

16.15 got back home and caught up on a bit of emailing

17:00 started to prepare food for the evening before it gets dark as no electricity

19:10 evening meal of Spanish omelette timed to coincide with the time those fasting for Ramadan could break their fast then spent the rest of the evening catching up with friends and family on social media (WhatsApp has made staying in touch a lot easier). Sent a postcard to Bob from the STANNP application.

11:45 time for bed

So all in all I was out for 8 hours just to register and collect some money. I'm happy to have got the registration done, I only heard about it the day before but it's a legal requirement for all foreigners who are resident in country for more than 90 days. We will be issued with an id card later in the year.

Wednesday 7 June 2017


Way back in September 2015 I made a couple of posts about a girl I referred to as 'M'. When I first came across her she was in a terrible condition, because of some of her behaviours the home she was living in found it hard to integrate her with the other children. Someone kindly provided funds through Mission Direct (the mission I was with before Transform Salone) and someone was employed to take care of her, which meant her life was much improved and she was allowed to live in the main house alongside the other children.

I was very sad to hear that she passed away last month (May 2017).

RIP you lovely girl xxx