Saturday, March 03, 2012

Life in SL versus NL...

I’ve been back in Sierra Leone for 10 days now and have been thinking about what makes life here so different. Here are some examples…

  • I don’t have Internet access at home
  • I do go to Bliss with satellite Internet, smoothies and crepes
  • I shouldn’t drink water straight from the tap
  • What I can do is drink water from 500ml plastic bag
  • I eat/drink ants when they sneak into my food or tea (via milk powder)
  • Luncheon meat (a.k.a. spam) or laughing cow cheese usually accompany my bread at lunch
  • Dinners consist of noodle soup all too often
  • I cook using a gas stove and have to get the gas bottle filled when empty
  • And when I do cook, aubergine (eggplant) is a used in most meals.
  • I can sleep in my own bed!
  • I can’t walk down a street anonymously
  • On my road the children frequently call out ‘Sandra, Sandra’ as I walk past
  • I sleep under a mosquito net at night
  • I have security guards on the compound 24-7
  • I get around on taxis or poda podas (minibuses) rather than a bike
  • I get to attend exciting events like a TEDx night, photo exhibitions and the launch of a new hiking trail
  • It’s around 28 Celsius rather than about 5
  • There are about 3 traffic lights in Freetown, none of which work
  • There is a thick layer of red dust hovering over the city
  • I thankfully have a lady who cleans the flat and hand washes our clothes, saving me a lot of time
  • People ‘flash me’ with their phone, meaning the phone rings once or twice and they hang up so that I’ll call them back on my phone credit
  • I have a driver drive me to and from work everyday
  • I get to speak Krio and rarely use my Dutch
  • I have various groups of friends I meet with a couple of times a week
  • The water pressure is low meaning I can’t wash my hair standing up
  • I hang out with people from many different countries/cultures
  • I have a stock of good chocolate I cherish in the fridge
  • Sleeping is difficult at times due to barking dogs, loud music and heat
  • No one looks at me strangely if I strike up a conversation with him or her on the street or in a taxi
  • A lot of my neighbors live in shacks
  • Water and electricity are not constant at the children’s hospital or at home (although pretty good)
  • I drink an average of one bottle of Coca-Cola a day
  • A lady comes to our office most days selling cakes, banana bread and other Sierra Leonean snacks
  • I’m enjoying the kilo block of Dutch Gouda I brought back but very much missing milk
  • If I wanted to I could go to the beach every weekend
  • The sermon at church is generally an hour long
  • I teach Sunday school a few times a month to lively 6-10 year olds
  • I sometimes miss decent roads and sidewalks and fear I’ll fall into a gutter
  • I eat much more fish here and it’s fantastic

The three hardest differences are probably that:

  • Children die in the hospital I work at on a daily basis
  • A lot of people do not seem motivated to help sick children
  • Family is very far away

The best is that I feel like I can make a difference here and hopefully improve child health and in the meantime enjoy life in Salone.

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~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~