Sierra Leone Trip – April 2013 Day 8 & 9

24th April 2013 | Posted in Nigel's Blog

Wednesday 24th April

Stepped out of bed on one of those bags of water which sent water all over my floor and books.  Saved the foot spa I suppose.  After breakfast off to see the me at the polio compound.  It was sad that their deputy chairman had died of pneumonia the previous week and it’s almost every time I go, someone else has passed on.  Paul the leader was not well but went through the plans and they were clear that they wanted some shops as the first step as that would bring income and show the council they were developing the land.  I think we have £2,000 at present so a way to go.

Then went in search of Tarpaulins – we just have to do something for the people who sleep under the stars and have had their homes bulldozed.  The rights and wrongs seem irrelevant compared to the need that cries out.  Eventually we found about 16 Tarps at various roadside stalls which we will deliver later.

Then to St George and see if we can find next steps for a boy called Stepy.  This is a street kid’s place that has taken in children and transform their lives whilst seeking families.  Stepy can’t walk by himself.  His ankles are completely locked in a position as if you were standing on your toes.  We had been asked to see what medical help was possible and we asked if the home could take him to be assessed by a doctor or if this had already been done.  The leader wasn’t there so we will continue the dialogue.

On to The Seniors home which was a truly shocking reminder of a place totally lacking in care.  The carers are paid so little they don’t care.  The board have taken the donated minibus for their own use and the seniors have seen over half their number die since moving there a year ago.  One gentleman implored us to help with their medical side.  Another had a stoma but no colostomy bags.  He showed how he taped leaky plastic bags to his skin and lived in a constant mess, with the only help really from other residents.  Then the main reason for our visit.  Pa Cole had not been to the toilet in 3 days and was in agony.  2 weeks before Alison had taken him to hospital and he had been returned and then not cared for.  We got him in the car and took him to the hospital, where the doctor noted he was the most urgent case of the day.  We took a “carer” for the home but needed to leave him some money for transport or he couldn’t get back and then leave the hospital money for Pa Cole to be fed as if we gave it the carer, it would be unlikely to be used to feed him.  We then spoke to his son.  His son doesn’t have any resources to help as has 3 children and will not prioritise anything for his father, not even to visit him.  (I have some sympathy but the reality is that when he dies, which he will soon, lots of money is found for the funeral.  A society that regularly will not pay for medical care to save money for the funeral! It is hard for us to really understand what the pressures and daily choices faced when you live in such poverty.

We dropped some cloth at the Hastings ladies (where we had built 2 accommodation blocks.  They seemed strangely subdued.  Then to change money and drop off supplies and tarpaulins at Andrew Sesays church so they could take them over to the displaced people.

Then to wind down for a couple of hours and then a wonderful evening meal with a friend of Terry’s who is the Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs and his wife.  An inspiring chap and great to see him have such a key role in government.  Very interesting to better learn how things worked and the progress made in the last few years.  Then to bed.

Thursday 25 April

Up at 4.30 to catch the ferry to get to the airport. Arrived to learn the ferry was cancelled – but there was another boat at 10 times the price.  This one takes you by packed bus form the ferry to the airport.  The bus bringing the luggage broke down and so we waited about an hour for that to arrive before checking in to the new terminal and home!

Much to reflect on and learn.

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