Sunday, 19 September 2010

My First Week Back in Sierra Leone

I have been back in Sierra Leone for just over a week and back in Makeni a week. The plane flight was uneventful and it was my first time on an airbus. It meant we had to refuel in Malaga because of the head winds and the fullnes of the flight/luggage.
I was met by a really great friend at the heliport with a taxi and I returned to the safety and comfort of her flat in Freetown. 2 of my Makeni - up country - friends were waiting for me in the flat - so it was all a bit of a surprise and wonderful to see them all.
The 2 up country friends and another friend had arranged for a lift up to Makeni on the Sunday - somehow the messages got lost in translation but we were asked to get over to Lungi - the airport side of Freetown where our lift would meet us.
We got on the very old transport ferry - it looked like what the Isle of Wight ferries may look like in 100 years time!! We boarded and waited for what seemed like ages - apparently it waits until it is full then goes across the large estury which took one and a half hours from boarding to dismounting. We were entertained (if you can call it that) by some dwarfs doing a singing and dancing routine and a hat was passed round for a collection.
There were DVD's of the trial of Charles Taylor amongst others and lots of load african music to which even the small children danced to - what a sense of rhythm they have!
We met our lift - but the journey took 6 hours back to Makeni. The road north of Freetown is a mud track with many pot holes. The driver was obviously tired and was asked not to try and overtake other veichles once we had joined the tarmac road at Port Loko. It was dark and he could really not see ahead of him. Two of us said if he tried to overtake again we would ask to be dropped off at the roadside. We trailed a long veichle and a truck with its flashers on. It was a long veichle belonging to a road digging company that had a mechanical problem. We were so releived to reach the sign saying Makeni. We stopped off at the supermarket (if you can call it that) and bought a few provisions.
My room remained the same - just a few dead bugs on the floor. The house I live in was as before.
The next day was a work day but I had to get some money, top up my mobile phone, negotiate a motorbike and get my internet reinstated.
My internet had been cut off whilst I was away in Europe - I was really frustrated as I could not contact people back home. I went back to the shop 3 times to get it sorted out - really frustrating. One evening when I was reduced to tears of frustration - a kind VSO colleague lent me her internet stick. She and another VSO colleague were up country for a 2 day conference being held for all VSOers at the Maternity School Makeni.
I am so dependent on internet - I just can believe what a nerd I really am!
I found I slotted back in to life in Makeni as though I had never been away - when I think of the steep learning curve I had when I first arrived - it was as if I had never been away.
I have met up with several of my aquaintences - some have moved on within my time away - but it has been good to catch up with people.
The school staff and students were very welcoming too - I was quite moved - they really had missed me!
Whilst I was away a newborn baby was found in a bag in a public toilet within the midwifery school compound. One of the nightwatchman had heard a baby cry - this is a very lucky little girl to be alive today - and well done to the diligent nightwatchman.
She is being taken care of by someone at the school - and she attends daily - and is cared for and loved by all of us.
The rainy season is still with us - but it seems to be a little bit less than when I left in July. The rain still dictates when and were we go out to.
Lots of work to be done as there are now 75 more midwifery students who started on 13th September. There are 73 student midwives already who started in January 2010.
There are more tutors than before. There was just me and the Head of School before. We are now joined by 3 Sierra Leonians who have completed their training in Nigeria and one additional VSO midwife teacher.
Things are improving all the time.

1 comment:

  1. I am enjoying following your blog and keep wondering who all the people are and who are the missing ones, too. Why only you and the head of school? How did you get with all your luggage back on the ferry and from the supermarket up to the house? So many questions! Look forward to the next one. Love from Anne