Friday, 17 February 2012

Friday 17th February

After a ropey start to the morning; packing, feeling ill and having to sort a massive mistake on my hotel bill, I was not looking forward to leaving Sierra Leone. We set off to school with our car piled full of suitcases. We made a quick stop at Bread of Life school. I couldn't believe how tiny the nursery classroom was.

When I arrived at school, the year 5 classroom had been set up for my leaving ceremony. It was beautifully decorated complete with plastic flowers, balloons and banners.

I met with all of the teachers from the school (I’m not too sure where the children had gone, but they were incredibly quiet) to deliver a computer lesson. I demonstrated to the teachers how to set up the computer and projector, which was a gift from Rimrose Hope to Bassa Town. This is such a valuable resource which I hope the teachers will benefit from. Hopefully I will find a way to provide the teachers with further I.C.T support.

Next Rosaline took me to her classroom, to get me changed into the Krio outfit the school had made for me. The outfit had been made especially for me and was extremely beautiful. When we went back into the year 5 class, the children had been assembled in the room. The leaving ceremony began with prayers and songs. The head boy for the school then made a speech for me, it was so moving and I felt very emotional to be leaving. Gifts between the two schools were exchanged and many photographs were taken. I felt very proud to give Bassa Town a banner that pupils from Rimrose Hope had created which celebrates our partnership. Whilst giving my leaving speech, I couldn’t quite believe how quickly the week had passed. I have felt at home at Bassa town this week, the staff and pupils have welcomed me back warmly. I am so grateful that our partnership is flourishing and I can’t wait for two teachers from Bassa Town to visit England in May.

After saying my goodbyes, I went over to Bassa Town infant school to meet up with the rest of my group. All of the teachers from the infant school were saying I looked like a good African lady and should stay. I ended up wearing my Krio outfit for a long time today. It was very emotional saying goodbye to all of the staff and children.

We drove through the back streets and then through freetown. We drove through Crew Bay which truly shocked me. Seeing the tin roofs of the houses tightly packed together was overwhelming, I can’t believe people can live in such cramped and dirty conditions.

As we had some spare time before we were due to meet the group, we visited Lumley beach. This because was stunningly beautiful. We sat in the shade of a palm tree and reflected upon our week (I was still dressed in my bright orange Krio outfit!!). We attracted a new friend and it was soon time for us to leave. We met at a hotel for our last group meal in Sierra Leone. I had spicy rice sticks which was the most incredible tasting meal I’d had all week. I was starting to feel a little bit anxious about the dreaded boat journey. After a quick change back into my normal clothes, we left the hotel to catch a boat. This time we were all able to get onto the same boat (along with one woman who had managed to sneak on with us) which was good fun. Walking over the plastic jetty wasn’t as bad as the first time; as it was in daylight, the water was calm and the plastic was dry. Arriving at the airport, disaster struck. The wheel from my suitcase had been ripped off and my suitcase had burst. Luckily, I had a backpack inside my back and Lizzie lent me a bag. After frantically throwing my belongings into my bag, there was a big argument between a local man and airport staff about who was taking my broken suitcase. Luckily Mary dragged me away and we went off to check in.

After a long check in, there we were sat in the airport, hot, sweaty and exhausted. Our flight was at 12am and we arrived in Heathrow at 6.15am on Saturday. It was so strange being in such a large space age building and I wondered what our Sierra Leonean guests will think when they visit in May. After a long coach journey, I arrived back home at 2pm.

I can hardly believe my second experience in Sierra Leone is over. This week has been exhilarating, fascinating and jam packed with one in a lifetime experiences. I have so many fantastic memories from this week and it is going to be hard to sum up my experience to others when I get home. Hopefully my blog will provide others with an insight into the lives of the warm and welcoming people, I was lucky enough to meet this week.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Thursday 16th February

Today started with me distributing letters that children at my school in Liverpool, had written for the children at Bassa Town School. It was lovely seeing the children’s reaction to the letters. I then took a photograph of every child with their letter. The children of class 5 sang some great songs for me.

Next, I had a meeting with the head teacher, to talk about the plans for our joint project about the Rights and Responsibilities of children, and the resources I brought with me. I then spoke to the teachers of class 6, about the classroom activities we can teach for our joint project. With class 6 children, I carried out a lesson introducing the Rights of Children. We discussed the difference between wants and needs. In groups, the children made a list of their different wants and needs. The children then shared their work with the class. It was very interesting to see the items that the children chose as a want and a need.  When I return to England, I will carry out the same activity with children in my school and then will compare the lists.

I visited Bassa Town infant school, to meet the staff. Whilst there, I was taught how to weave using 2 sticks and some wool. It was so therapeutic and I had a great time.  I then went with Harry and Lewis to a local basket weaver, to collect some baskets. The skill that went into these baskets is amazing and they looked beautiful. I couldn’t resist buying a basket of my own, which I hope can find its way to Liverpool in one piece.

Arriving at school, I found another game of football in full swing. I took out some bubbles and played with some of the children. After school we went to St Raphael’s school to meet Badarah, head of the Waterloo Partnership. Some local children managed to sneak into the meeting. At the end of the meeting, I had one girl lying on me, and four others touching my back and stroking my hair.


Harry from Bassa Town Infant school met us to take us on a walk through Waterloo Market. The market is hectic, with everyone bustling around trying to sell things. The market was busy, boiling hot and rich with different smells. We caused quite a stir walking through the market to cries of ‘Opato’, which means ‘white man’ in Krio. I bought some beautiful instruments in the market and a local lady demonstrated how to play it properly. I can’t wait to get home and start practicing! When I looked behind us, I saw about 50 children from Bassa Town School following us which was lovely. I also bumped into a teacher from my school out shopping.  It’s nice to feel integrated with the local community. Ironically, a poda poda (bus) called ‘Liverpool’ nearly ran us over!

On the drive home, we stopped off at Grafton medical centre again, to hand over a medical kit.

Sadly, as it was our last night, we celebrated at dinner time with a sing song. Armed with a Ukulele, a guitar, and handwritten songs, Jeremy and Lewis lead the nights entertainment. The highlight of which was a thank you song for Eddie to the tune of ‘Valerie’ and a song ‘Hey Moses’, to the tune of ‘Hey Jude’ dedicated to a waiter in the hotel. Lots of laughs were shared (sadly, not by some of the other diners who left the restaurant!) and it was a brilliant way to wrap up our fantastic week together. I had to leave the party early, as I had a lot of packing to do before my busy day tomorrow.