So much has been happening in Sierra Leone, it’s exciting to be here to see what God is doing on the ground. I know sometimes it’s hard to really connect with our mission, before you’ve been here to see it in person, so for that reason, I’m trying my best to post updates and videos of my time here (find updates here: www.instagram.com/impactalifeorg).
In Sierra Leone, transportation can be a bit tricky. My mom asked me what I would do in the event that Roland didn’t show up at the airport to get me, and I thought, well…he’s always there, and if he’s not, he will eventually get there to pick me up… On second thought, I came up with an alternate plan. My plan was this: I would head out from the airport with Cindy and her son Matthew, from the Schools For Salone non-profit and I would stay with them for the night in Freetown. They were on my flights all the way from Seattle, so we buddied up and heading to Freetown with them via water taxi seemed a good plan. So plans in place for the what if’s, what do you know….Roland wasn’t there when I landed! On his way to the airport, the vehicle Roland had hired died along the road (the cars here to SO beat up, it’s amazing many of them work at all). Roland had abandon the car and driver he had hired and found a taxi to get to the airport from there, so he was in fact delayed. Cyrus was on it (we have such an awesome team!), he had been in communication with Roland and I had a text waiting for me when my flight landed. So I said goodbye to Cindy and Matthew, and waited. When Roland arrived, we loaded up my things into the taxi and as we drove away, the driver told Roland the price increased (due to him seeing me and my bright white skin). This is not uncommon here, for prices to be higher for the stand-out white foreigner. So, displeased with the price, Roland instructed the driver to pull over at a gas station so we could find a new driver. We stood around for a while and Roland went out seeking a new car/driver that wouldn’t over-charge us for the ride to Makeni (which is about 3 hours from the airport by car).
We arrived to Makambo Village Resort sometime past midnight. I was ready for bed and I was so pleased that my room was seemingly cleaner and less bug infested than has happened in the past. I slept soundly.
In the morning, Roland arrived at Makambo with a surprise for me – a brand spanking new motorcycle! Okay, so I knew this was happening, I even brought my helmet with me – but I hadn’t yet seen the bike as he was saving the details as a surprise! Like I said, transportation is difficult here if you don’t own your own car, and for smaller trips where it’s just one, two, or three of us traveling here together, having a motorcycle available to use will make things SO much more affordable! The cost of the motorcycle here with licensing and everything was $1600 – which is basically the cost of hiring a car/driver/gas for two trips here. This will greatly reduce our on the ground costs and will also help our local team here as there is always a need for transportation to the village from Makeni (where some of our employees live).
From the hotel, we headed out to Mankneh Village, to take inventory of our Revive Africa Christian School students. Roland had the hard part of this, gathering all of the parents names, dates of birth, and correcting the names of the children we’d previously recorded. I took pictures of each student, and will be updating our website with new pictures of students and adding all of the new students to our list.
For child sponsorship, we do not match donors up with students – rather, we have a general pool of funds needed per student at our school, and so at $30/student, we know how to budget and support our school the best we can. Also, several of our students moved away this past year, so an added benefit to not directly connecting student to donor, we don’t have to deal with the sadness of telling donors that, “Sorry, the sweet child you were sponsoring has moved”. The funds are needed regardless, as all of the children are equally important to us. Also, our donor pool is very very small, so it would be quite sad to connect just a few children with sponsors when they all deserve our love and support. We’ve established this as the most functional way of managing the funds needed to operate the school. Also of note, our entire team in the USA is volunteer based, so anything to help simplify our processes, the better. Our goal is to impact lives in Sierra Leone, not getting too nitty gritty with the details of child sponsorship is a way we can maximize our time and efforts here – and at home. 😉 If you would like to donate to our child sponsorship program, thus supporting the school directly, you can do so here: https://impactalife.org/child-sponsorship
Okay, anyway…after we took photos of the children and updated their records (this took several hours), we headed to Mamaso Village – which is a new village we are partnering with. The village is several miles from Mankneh, I should have recorded the mileage, but it was quite far. Mamaso has a female Chief and though she is Muslim, she has allowed ILF to partner with them. The Mission Church, in Renton, is helping to sponsor the building of a church building there, and the people in the village are so excited to soon have a church building to worship in.
Roland said some things to the community, told them about ILF and talked about respecting women. Since their Chief is a woman, he wanted to stress that men are to respect the women, and to not slap them, and to treat them well – and that ILF cares about how they are treating women. It’s generally a problem here, women not being treated equally or fairly – and from what I’ve heard, there have been struggles in Mamaso in the past – because the chief is female, not everyone has given her the proper respect. This is why Roland gave the speech – respect women, including me, a representative from ILF, and including their very own chief. Everyone cheered at the end and they were very welcoming to me.
Mamaso does not have a schoool, nor do most of the kids there go to school as the closest one is very far away. There is a foot bridge that crosses over a river and connects Mamaso to a village near Mankneh where the children could then walk to Revive. We are encouraging the people of Mamaso to send their children to Mankneh to attend Revive Africa Christian School for the time being, but it is a long walk through the bush and over a river, so not everyone is on board. Their dream is to have a school in the village, but for now, sending their children to Mankneh is the best option.
After visiting Mamaso, we headed into town on a quest to find some vegetables for me to eat… quite a hard task! I did find a canned mixed vegetable option, but that’s about it. Everything we eat here has to be cooked, as the water contains a lot of microbes and things us foreigners are not used to. When we visit, we usually end up bringing a lot of our own snacks to sustain us. For brushing teeth, we used bottled water – sometimes that’s a hard one to remember as habits to turn on the water and rinse the toothbrush are so common.
That’s it for today’s report! Thank you for following along on the journey and we so appreciate your support!
Stay tuned for more updates over the weekend!
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