Sierra Leone Trip – January 2013 Day 2

14th January 2013 | Posted in Nigel's Blog

Sunday 14th January

Good night’s sleep with zircon on all night.  Then just when time to get up they turn  the power off so struggling to see anything in my room – why not turn off from 2-4am and on when I would like to use it I thought.

No water but the bucket does the job.  Bit bracing but it’s quite warm here so nice and clean and off to breakfast.  Looked for restaurant but it was totally empty, no chairs or table either.  Met the proprietor, Kajeta –Muslim lady praying with her beads who found me an old metal chair and sat me in the porch whilst they got breakfast.  A few moments later a boy appears with a tiny child’s school desk – my table.  Then as I put my bible and computer on it hey brought a second desk for breakfast.  Porridge, omelette and coffee were great and a bun the side of a tray.  Ate well and took bun to give away later.   It felt comical sat eating at a child’s desk on my own in a porch.   Asked the man why he was getting water from the well and throwing it on the courtyard – why not sweep it – told sweeping did not clean it well enough.  Walking back I tripped up the stairs and landed on the bun somewhat flattening it.

Important to leave on time as off to the high commission.  Alison rings – car might be ready as multiple promises made.  Get myself ready and stand out on the street.  Whilst waiting am approached by 2 men, one 30ish one 40ssh I think.  Both double amputees – must have lost hands in the war.  Listened to how they do life.  From up country and beg.  Both did some schooling,  Yenka essay is a Christian, Forad Mara is a muslim with faith in Jesus he says.  Talked about how they lived and how they saw the future.  Hard to do a job with no hands but they could sell.

The Lions group I was with had given me £20 and referred to the parable of the talents.  What will we do.  I asked them how much a bale of clothes was to sell.  If they could buy one they could get it for 500,000 and then take it up country and sell for 1 million Leones.  Double their money – good business.  I decided to finance the business.  We talked about their plan and said comeback tomorrow at 8am and we will do the deal.  Then pondered how do 2 amputees sign a contract, how do they vote if they have no finger print?

Turns out the car cannot be fixed so Alison picks me up win a taxi and off we go.  Lamin is the car, 19 year old Alison has known years – wants to be a footballer but his dad says no – must study.  He was going to get the internet dongle for us as it takes ages in queues to get done and could easily waste half a  day doing it. Into Freetown traffic and no bad today, we keep moving.  Then the  taxi breaks down!  Appointment at 10.30 at the British High Commission – will they fix it or do we need another taxi.  Every taxi seems full.  After pushing the car a few times we get it started and off again – ironically got there 15 minutes early!

Interesting time with Rick and Danielle from the HC.  He is off to Haiti and a new high commissioner comes in a month.  One company came 2 years ago to look at manufacturing plastic houses but not heard of since.  There seems little action and no others they are aware of doing anything for Kroo Bay housing.  Helpful to a moderate extent but I had hoped for more insights.

The back with Patrick to his business office.  Spent a while drafting letters to ministers and the mayor to see if they would see us.  Be followed up by Patrick tomorrow so tried to see 3 ministers, the Mayor and 2 presidential aides.  We’ll see but very hopeful.  Read some of Patricks work on housing – extraordinary and met a man with not only a likeminded vision, but also huge skill and expertise in the area.  Tried to catch up on e mail.

Then met Nicholas – friend of UK friend who sponsors him.  Aim to pay his fees.  Banks close at 4pm so he arrived at 4.15!  Good chat – doing social welfare and will need a job – but tells me there are so few jobs around.

Alison picked me up and we headed off to see Major Moses.  He had arranged a meeting with the head of Kroo bay council.  Had a piece of chicken with them.  Spent 2 hours in difficult meeting as it turned out Major Moses had promised Kroo bay all sorts of things in Mission Directs name and the counsellor had been elected on the back of it.  Alison and I left mystified as to what it was all about.  Anyway – gently explained position but in so doing Moses got very distressed as I failed in the cultural requirement to talk to him rather than directly to the counsellor, who had the answers I wanted to hear.  After a worrying few minutes all calmed down and left on good note.  Most bizarre conversation!

Left and headed home but first to have dinner around 9.30. Then ran out of fuel on a steep hill.  Sulay had sat for 2 hours at a meeting and decided not to tell us there was no diesel in the car.  We were rescued by a passer-by and we headed to the restaurant whilst Sulay went in search of fuel.  Bed at 11 – Busy day!

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