What a great start to my day; I got to have a well deserved lie in until 10.30!! After packing, we left the hotel at 11.45am, to drive through Freetown, to the port to catch a ferry to Lungi. I love driving past mothers carrying babies on their backs, items being carried on people’s heads and men walking along holding hands with their friends. Once I return home, I am going to practice carrying shopping on my head!
On the roads here there are lots of cramped, crowded broken buses. Some buses have broken doors and seats. We had some sad news today; three people had been killed in the car crash we had driven by yesterday. Hospitals in Sierra Leone have inadequate resources and limited staffing. Often medical supplies are reused on many people, this leads to the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and AIDs. Before I came to Sierra Leone, I had to purchase a sterile medical kit, which could be used only for me, in case I had to be taken to hospital. Preventable diseases such as typhoid (which I have had a vaccination for) are also being spread because people aren’t able to be vaccinated. On the way to the ferry, I saw various people using broken wheelchairs. I also witnessed one man, who had had both of his legs amputated, shuffling along on the dirty floor. Some sights here are heartbreaking. People shouldn’t have to live like this in the year 2011!!
Before catching the ferry we had a nice cold drink, took some group photos and bought some jewellery. On the ferry it was very hot and crowded. I bought a CD of African music which I can’t wait to play in my car when I get home. The ferry is a great place to people watch. I couldn’t quite believe it when I saw one man carrying a 2 seated sofa on his head! Two men with a form of dwarfism were performing excellent dances for money.
Once off the ferry, we drove to Lungi airport hotel for some dinner. Our flight left Lungi at 12am. On the plane the cabin staff deinsect the cabin, to kill any insects which might have snuck onto the plane, on our clothing. Upon take off, the plane filled with lots of steam because of the condensation on the plane. Following a bumpy plane journey, we arrived very tired, into Heathrow at 7am and then drove back to Liverpool. 25 hours after leaving the hotel in Freetown, we eventually arrived in Waterloo, Liverpool at 1pm on Monday 14th Feb.
Words cannot describe the experience of the past 8 days for me. I have had an incredible time. Posters by the airport said ‘Welcome to Sierra Leone, home of peace, unity and freedom’. Following the horrific, unimaginable events of the civil war (1991-2002) the country is on the long road to recovery. A great deal of work still needs to be carried out. What struck me most about my trip is that in a country that is desperately poor, the people have such spirit and determination.