Friday, June 15, 2012
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 12:31 AM
Monday, June 11, 2012
I have come to realize that my prized possession is my laptop. I don't want it to break, get lost or get stolen! Obviously, I don't wish that on any of my things, but a laptop is dear. Just think about all of the information on it - the documents, the photos, etc. And add up the number of hours spent using it and the inconvenience of not being able to use a laptop for work. And the hassle of needing to replace it - the money, the logistics, a mule to haul it to Sierra Leone etc. No thanks!
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 7:40 PM
Sunday, June 10, 2012
It has become a pleasure to visit Namina and her mom in their village. Mid-April, Gibrill, Osman and I set out to Bailor town again. We had a fun ferry crossing, taking many photos and talking to various people and met up with Namina and her brother in Lungi. We all got in Osman’s car and off we went. Fortunately the road was less dusty than last time! We spent some time on the dodgy bridge, partially to re-lay the wooden boards so that we could actually cross, but also to take some photos.
When we arrived Namina’s mom (Wara) and the rest of the (extended!) family welcomed us with open arms. I also saw my namesake, Sandra, who had grown quite a bit since our last visit. I brought many printed photos from our last trip, which were greatly accepted by all. While half the village spent time sharing around photos, we headed to the beach (about 2 minutes from the huts) and sat and enjoyed the cool breeze. Many children soon joined us of course.
We spent some time with the children, handed out biscuits and took a long walk on the beach. The fishermen were just coming in with their boats laden with fish, so that was entertaining for a bit. To be honest, it was just nice spending time with Namina’s family.
Later we had a big coloring session. With coloring pages I brought from home and a bunch of crayons given to me by my sister (thanks Maris!), we kept many children and even some adults very happy. They loved it. You have to remember that for some, this was the first time they colored! It was great to watch Namina and her brother color and comment on each other’s work. It has been a privilege to be a part of Namina’s life and see her flourish. Due to rainy season I don’t think I’ll be back for a little while, but I’m sure they’ll come to Freetown for a visit.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 12:58 PM
Tucked away in the Atlantic Ocean, near Sherbro Island off the coast of Sierra Leone, lay the Turtle islands. Seven (or eight if you count Foto Island that no longer exists) in number the tiny islands are: Bakay, Yele, Bompetoke, Mooth, Hoong, Seh and Nyangai island. The islands are stunning, with beautiful beaches, green palm trees, clear blue waters and friendly people.
I was fortunate to be able to spend Easter weekend there with three good friends: John, Katy and Suzanne. We had an amazing time. We drove to Shengbe and spent some hours there while waiting for the tide to come in so that we could take the boat across to the islands. We had a lovely time with chief Doris before heading to Turtle Islands.
It was approaching dusk when we arrived at the Islands. While nearing one of the islands we noticed the Island was covered with huts – this didn’t seem very relaxing to us and we asked the boat man if there was another island that we could go to that was less crowded. That’s how we ended up at Bakay Island.
Bakay is amazing with its long stretches of beach and unique nature. I loved my time there. It was a mini paradise. We arrived just after dark and showed up unannounced of course, but that was not a problem. The village people were happy to see us and to our surprise there were some rooms available to stay in. Since we had our hearts set on camping, we decided to rent one room for our stuff (and to make use of its bathroom) but pitched our tents for sleeping.
We spent time chatting, eating, swinging in the hammock, taking walks around the island, swimming at an amazing spot, going to Yele Island to buy lobster, etc. We also went back to the Island we passed the first night- Nyangai, which is the smallest of the islands and is said to be slowly disappearing. It is interesting to watch how the island changes in size drastically depending on the tide. Again, the people were friendly and as we walked around the tiny island, we had a trail of children by our side. I was impressed that some of the children spoke Krio, English and Shebro. Apparently there is a teacher on the island!
Bakay Island provided an amazing get-a-way and I’ll definitely be back. We took a roundabout way of getting there, and I now know that I can arrange it a bit easier through the guy that runs The Lodge. The trip is a bit pricey, but worth it for sure. It’s the type of place I’d want to take my whole family to someday. I know, the chance is small, but I’ll keep dreaming.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 12:55 PM
A colleague with VSO asked me, if I could help facilitate a mentorship workshop in Kenema in March. The aim was to provide initial mentorship training to clinical nurses who would be responsible for supervision and assessment of other nurses. Seeing as this is exactly what the hospitals here need, I was very happy to help out. I also felt this was a unique opportunity to ask two nurses from the Children’s Hospital to participate in the workshop. The idea was that they could then help us run the Emergency Triage, Assessment and Treatment (ETAT) course at the Children’s Hospital and act as mentors on the ward to ensure that what we teach people during ETAT, is actually being implemented on the wards afterwards. Also, the idea of leading by example is key. These two nurses can model excellent nursing practice to their peers.
Suzanne and I took a bus up to Kenema and had a very pleasant and comfortable journey there. On arrival we had to take okadas (motorcycles that really aren’t very safe to take, at least not in Freetown) to the house and for both of us it was the first time in Sierra Leone. We arrived at the house in one piece and Dickya, the course coordinator, took great care of us over the next two days. From the house it was a five-minute walk to the Kenema Government Hospital, where the workshop took place.
The course took two days and was comprised of lectures, discussions, group work, tasks, etc. We had a lot of fun, especially when blindfolded participants had to be guided by verbal instructions by their group leader around an obstacle course. A team task to build a bridge from straw that would hold a load was also a hit. All in all, it was a successful course. The challenge remains to follow-up and ensure that the nurses are able to mentor and model excellent nursing to their peers. Mentorship is ongoing- both for the nurses who participated and for us as facilitators. Two thumbs up for mentorship.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 12:08 PM
Saturday, June 09, 2012
When I think of fruit I can always buy in Freetown, I think of bananas. However, today I had some difficulty locating them. Between Congo Cross and Wilberforce village, they were nowhere to be found. I walked around the village for about 20 minutes trying to find them going up and down various paths. Finally, I spotted a bunch. They were being sold at a fruit stall on our road that I have boycotted in the past. I boycotted it because the last time I went there, the lady selling fruit was really grumpy and quoted ridiculously high prices. Today I felt a little desperate. So, I asked the little boy to call his mom and out she came. She was exceptionally friendly and when I asked for the price of bananas she said 5 for SLL 2,000 – the usual price. I was pleasantly surprised and said I’d like ten. I then asked for the price of cucumbers and again, a decent price. Finally, I asked about the mangos, and she said SLL 500 each. A bargain.
In the meantime a guy walked up and helped the lady put the fruit into a plastic bag. I soon learnt that his name is Julius, and he is the fruit lady’s son. He wanted to make small talk. He first questioned my name, which I was happy to give him. His second question was asking me where I live, so I vaguely said I live in Wilberforce. His third question to me was whether or not I was married. And after my response of saying no, his mother was quick to jump in and say that her son should have me. Well, there you have it. Her son was a bit more sensible and said that it’s too early to talk about marriage, since we only met today. However, he did ask to walk me home. I kindly declined and headed home with my bag of fruit.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 3:24 PM
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 3:15 PM
Friday, June 08, 2012
Dodgy vehicles change plans. I had to change my plans once already because I was asked yesterday to attend an important meeting on the west side of town at 11 am today. No problem, the meeting has a lot of funding potential so I could definitely fit it in and rearrange my day a bit.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 4:36 PM
Thursday, June 07, 2012
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 8:37 PM
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 5:28 PM
Sunday, June 03, 2012
At 9:00 am this morning it was raining SO HARD that I was tempted to stay at home rather than go to church, but I had to teach Sunday school. I had no choice. The ironic thing is that if it is raining, I can’t teach anyway because we have Sunday school outside on the field. Oh well. Duty calls. I decided to call a driver to pick me up. I called this guy Mohamed who finally showed up at 10 am (the time church is supposed to start). It had taken him longer because although he started driving his taxi earlier in the morning, he had stopped driving due to the heavy rain because there were no passengers on the street. He even removed his car battery (which he does because if he parks his car with the car battery in it, the battery may get stolen!) and so it took him a bit longer to get sorted. Eventually he came and I arrived at church at 10:20 am. By this time it was only sprinkling and church had not yet started.
Fortunately I was able to start Sunday school out on the field. It then started sprinkling, so we moved to the steps in front of the church, which are covered for the most part. However, after about 30 minutes it started raining heavily and we ended up going into the church building in the back and quietly continued with a written assignment and coloring. It’s a good thing it was a small class. I don’t even think the pastor noticed that we were having Sunday school in the back of the room.
The heavy rain continued after the service and I was happy for a lift home after lunch with some friends that live in the East side of town. I’m now in my room, nice and dry, but I am heading out in a few hours so hopefully the rains will have subsided. And to think, this is just the beginning of rainy season.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 4:22 PM
Saturday, June 02, 2012
Yesterday was a great day. I really like weekends here. The great thing about yesterday was that nothing was really planned in advance, but as the day continued, the plans unfolded.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 9:54 PM