Today we woke up to no running water, I felt unclean not being able to wash properly. This made me appreciate that having no clean, running water, is the daily reality for a lot of Sierra Leoneans. I also felt quite ill this morning. Luckily for me, I had access to medicine, which unfairly, many people across Sierra Leone don’t. So, a couple of tablets later (and keeping my fingers crossed) I set off on my journey to school. When I arrived at school, I went into class 4 who were carrying on with division in mathematics. The teacher asked if I wanted to help, so I marked all 45 books from the children, feeling at home in the classroom.
Following this lesson, I set up the laptop and projector ready for my lesson. I taught 50 children in class four and 80 children in the second class 4, about England and my school in Liverpool. The children had the opportunity to ask me anything about myself, my country or my school. I had some very interesting questions. The children were interested to know how I travel to school. One girl told me that she has to walk for an hour and a half to attend school. The children were keen to know how many children I teach, if mosquitoes exist in England as my skin was smooth, and what facilities are available in the school I work at. Mainly, the children wanted to know how many toilets we have. They told me that their own toilets had collapsed during the rainy season. Bassa Town children now have no access to a toilet during the school day. I was later shown the toilet block. The structure has completely been destroyed and it’s incredibly lucky that no children were injured. The school have no money to rebuild a new toilet or to clear up the damaged structure which is a danger to the pupils. This is heartbreaking for me to think that in 2012, there are children in the world whose basic needs are not being met. Children are receiving their education, in overcrowded, inadequate school buildings, with limited resources, having no access to toilets or food during the school day. Yet these children are extremely grateful for the opportunity to be educated. Many children in Sierra Leone spend their days selling goods on the streets.
After yesterday’s activities in the sand, my eyes were very sore and I was still feeling a little drained after being unwell. So, instead of the planned volleyball match, the sports master put on the second football match of the week. The children are so enthusiastic about the match and the children are keen for their house team to win. I was getting hot watching the football, so I snuck off to talk to some of the children watching the match. However, the minute I pulled out my camera, I attracted a massive crowd of children wanting me to snap them. Before long, I had a huge crowd of children singing and dancing for me.
After school, our group met at St Raphael’s school for our afternoon activity. Once we got out of the car we were swamped with children wanting to touch us. Secondary school boys I had met the previous day were waiting to give me valentine’s cards. Sierra Leone previously had a president called Valentine, so the Sierra Leonean people celebrate his life on Valentine’s Day. I received 6 cards today from staff and pupils! Our group visited the Waterloo Wharf which has connections with the slave trade. The Wharf was a beautiful place, I had a lot of fun there taking photographs of the local children and watching men dancing on their boats in the water.
On the long drive home, we stopped to meet some local weavers by the roadside. One man was a teacher, who did weaving after school so he could afford to feed his family. We bought some beautiful woven fabric, the colour of the Sierra Leone flag from one lady. The local tailor then sewed the ends so the fabric wouldn’t fray. As the tailor was sewing the fabric, a teenage boy asked if I remembered him. Last year, as we had stopped to visit the weavers, I gave this boy an exercise book so he could attend school. It was lovely to see this boy again and I was incredibly touched that he remembered me. It was fantastic news to hear he was still at school. Next on a steep hill, we stopped to speak to Thomas who is somewhat of a local celebrity. Thomas is a 64 year old man, who maintains the bumpy back roads on the way to Freetown. He spends his day filling in the potholes.