It was a Wednesday, which made absolutely no difference as illness does not pause; we worked a 7-day cycle. Four of us had the day off (JS, CS, PF) and took off towards the local EducaAid orphanage. Head towards the road to the airport, approximately 0.8 km, they said, then turn right and walk along the tar road for another 2 km or so before you head off down a jungle track for another 3 km. The distances were quite accurate, as it turned out. On the tar road the “aporto, snap me” started (foreigner, take my picture). It was going to take a while…. We saw several small communities (usually about 5 abodes) next to the road and the pictures below were not untypical of these small communities.
The dark clouds were gathering, it was the rainy season after all, and it time to move along. Ah, our next landmark, the “blue house after the bridge” loomed at the bottom of the hill. Time to head into the the “jungle”, but not before we got a few more snap-me’s….
Time to head down the track, only nobody had mentioned river crossings; it had been raining quite hard the previous few days. Should we, should we not? How deep was it? What about snakes and other “critters”? After a few minutes a local motorcycle taxi approached and crossed without any trouble. Off came the shoes and we walked across the river, it was actually quite refreshing as it was a humid day. The orphanage was approximately another 3 km down a wonderful “jungle track”. The fauna and flora was absolutely amazing and I will update on butterflies, ants etc. in a separate post.
A lot of butterflies, flowers, leaf-cutter ants and one more river crossing later, we saw the orphanage at the top of a hill. It was a bit quiet, but that would soon change. The kids were playing or reading in their dorms, it was the summer break, or doing chores such as the laundry or preparing lunch – I was later told that all the children helped in the preparation of lunch, alternatively girls and boys. Once we had found the children and their mentors, we payed a courtesy visit to the local chief and had an aporto snap-me session. The kids were happy and we were pulled in all directions, though eventually a semblance of order prevailed and we were shown some of the dormitories and the kitchen; on the day that we visited, lunch consisted of rice, beans and peppers… ah, chilies. What amazed me the most was the strong desire of the children to learn and many wanted to demonstrate their reading skills. The children dream of becoming teachers, nurses, doctors.
On 24 October JS will be running the Street Child Sierra Leone marathon: “I have recently returned from Sierra Leone where I worked in a diagnostic lab in an Ebola Treatment Centre. Whilst in Sierra Leone I visited an Educaid school. I was overwhelmed by the excitement, enthusiasm and intelligence of the children. I am returning to the country to continue work in the Ebola Treatment Centre. Whilst there I will run a marathon to support the work of Educaid. EducAid is a UK charity that runs 9 free schools in Sierra Leone. The #AfterEbola programme aims to create a future for the orphans and communities worst struck by Ebola”.(https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/jenniferspencer)
The Maronka EducAid Primary School
A courtesy visit to the local Chief (left); All the children were keen to read to us – wonderful
The kitchen at the Maronka EducAid Primary School, preparing lunch