Sierra Leone Trip – January 2013 Day 4

16th January 2013 | Posted in Nigel's Blog

Day 4

Having suggested a revised power strategy for the hotel it was brilliant they did it!  So power on at 6.45 and had power to wash and dress by.  Looked at hotel and clear my rooms shower could never work as the water tank is level with our floor so never any pressure!

Alison was coming over for breakfast so it was laid up properly and great effort.  I will look like porridge soon.  The lukewarm luncheon meat with monster bread role was passed on to Sulay, our driver.  Had little time as had to get to town so dropped Alison off to pick up the new vehicle whilst I headed to Joules office to meet Patrick.  Changed money again in the back of the car with Hassain with Alison saying don’t gave it all away this time! Then counted out money for Sulay to get on boat to go and fetch peter from airport as he has to go today as no ferry in time tomorrow.  This BA flight is a real pain!

Met Jeremy of Joule Africa – could talk with him for hours but after 20 mines time to go to see the Minister of Works Housing and Infrastructure.  Sat for hour waiting in ante room and then Patrick had a meeting change so he left me to it!  Met a Mongolian lady who was a Christian and had been with world vision and now works of a for profit in Sierra Leone – asked for my card as they all do here.  Then talked to a guy who does planning inspection – processes could be challenging.

Spent 20 minutes with the minister alone – nice chap who had spent 20 years at the council of churches and done a lot as Minster for trade and now lots of roads as minister for Infrastructure.  He noted he had done little on housing and other than free tax positions to Chinese developers, no one seemed to have an agenda for the poor and there was no plan.  He would like to approve our plans so I said I would let him know by 31 March.  Came away feeling it was not really high on a mega list of their priorities but they would be pleased if something happened.  The need is overwhelming and I sensed he cared but such a difficult one.

Back to office and then to the bank to queue up and pay fees for a friend who was sponsoring a university student.  Took ages as spending 2.5 million in 5,000 notes tales a lot of counting.  Had to also be split and paid in 2 separate accounts and get 2 receipts!  Then met Nicholas the student and chatted with him, age 36, refugee from Liberia, saved by this education.  Humble and lives in a room about 4m x 2m.  Keen to do well.  He said my friend had “made a monument in his life”

Then in a car for short journey and met Monty, an orthopaedic surgeon who had spent 40 years in the states and now returned for 2 years to help his people.  Why do people keep asking for my card?

The to e mail and speak to Jackie in office and see when Alison was coming.  At 4pm Patrick and I headed off to see the Mayor and his Chief executive.  Again they liked the idea as no one was doing it and it was on no one’s agenda.  As we talked about the urban development plan for the city I connected – a light bulb moment – next week I have 10 town planners who could help!  Freetown is perhaps the most unplanned city on earth!  I agreed for some of them to go to meet with the councils planners and see what could be learned so 3pm next Monday it is.

Seemed he had a genuine heart to help but started with we have no money.  His main issue was he had 4 years and wanted to leave a legacy and be known he did something.  Whatever we do, there will be no shortage of people looking for the glory!  There was some land the EU had worked towards a couple of years ago but again nobody knew what had happened – time to talk to EU representative maybe.

Back to office and then met Alison.  Looked at new land rover – good buy but covered in stickers.  Hope Sulay going alright on the boat to pick up Peter, bet he won’t get much sleep though.  Eventually got to finalise next week’s programme.

Had dinner at Montanas on the beach.  Suddenly a loud yell and 12 year old girl sobbing uncontrollably on the beach surrounded by the peanuts she had dropped in the sand.  Why does everyone ignore her?  Went down to help pick them up.  Several people yell and tell me not to help her.  She does it to get attention they say.  Fatmata spoke good English and in year 6.  Tells me she is afraid her mother will flog her when she gets home.  Others say don’t help her, almost zealous, especially the waitress.  Talked to Sally the waitress and asked her it why a girl would behave like that and why can no one be kind, even if she did do it to get money, what sort of life does she lead.  Suggested Sally might mentor her!  What planet am I on?

And on to bed

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