I returned to Sierra Leone 72 hours ago and it’s been great so far, with mostly ‘ups’ and very few ‘downs’.
I had a good trip back especially since I travelled with my new colleague. We had plenty of time to chat and get to know each other and the six-hour trip went by quickly. From Lungi we made it to Freetown in record time by way of a minibus and water taxi. When we reached Aberdeen, our driver picked us up and took us to the flat. Over a cup of tea, I caught up with my colleagues before heading to bed.
On Thursday morning we went to our little office on the west side of town (near the flat) to catch up a bit. Of course, as predicted, I hit the ground running. Not only am I taking on all of the Comic Relief stuff (which kind of doubles my work load) but I am also taking over a few of the tasks from a colleague who left last night – like overseeing the reconstruction of the neonatal unit and sorting out vehicle issues! Oh, the joys. If I am honest, it is a bit daunting, but really, I will manage. I just need a few days to catch up with what has happened over the last few weeks (finances etc.) and then I can move forward with some big assignments!
In the afternoon we went to the hospital and I showed my new colleague around. It was great to catch up with hospital staff, although the place was a little empty due to Ramadan (people out for prayers). We ended up leaving after 5 but fortunately traffic wasn’t too bad. In the evening we went to Independence Bar ion the beach for barbeque dinner (groupa fish and potato salad) and it was wonderful to sit on the beach, feet in the stand, listening to the sound of the waves and seeing the stars in the sky. Sierra Leone really is a beautiful place.
After a meeting at Connaught Hospital on Friday, we went to the Children’s. I spent the day catching up on a few things, seeing more hospital staff and spending some time chatting to some of the doctors, which was fun. One of the downs was the confrontation again with how sick children are here. There was a child in ICU on the verge of death and at various times I heard the sound of a wailing mother down the hall. It’s tough but I guess that is why we are here: to improve care.
On Friday evening we went to a place called Big Brother as a farewell for my colleague. After volunteering with Welbodi for 10 months he is moving on and he’ll be missed. A few of us saw him off at the water taxi which ended up being delayed a bit when a severe rainstorm came out of nowhere. Even though we were all under cover, within seconds, we were wet. Horizontal rain. Love it!
Today is Saturday and I met up with a good friend from Aberdeen for brunch. Afterwards we headed to town for some shopping. Our first stop was the ‘big market’ – a large covered market with carvings, jewelry, bags, blankets, fabric, etc. It’s rainy season and the evenings/nights are actually a bit chilly, so I bought a blanket at Big Market. When I bought my blanket I didn’t even bargain. The lady’s first price was Le 120,000 (20 Euros) and I told her my first and last price was Le 60,000 (10 Euros) since that is what I have paid in the past. She tried to get me to pay Le 75,000 but I told her Le 60,000 was my final price. Sold! We then strolled along Malama Thomas Street and picked out some fun fabrics. We then walked to the bus station and took the bus to the West side of town.
I spent the rest of the day unpacking my suitcase, cleaning, putting things away and basically enjoying a quiet afternoon and evening at home. I feel I have had some time to relax and come Monday, I’ll be ready to go! Full steam ahead. I hope.