Thursday, January 17, 2013 (Day 8)
I enjoy the cool temperatures and peace of the Restless Development office first thing in the morning. Originally, we had a 7.20am meeting scheduled at the nearby Muslim school but Bob texted me late last night to inform me that has been put back until tomorrow. Instead Bob, Alex and I have a meeting about the link teachers we use to work directly between the Craig Bellamy Foundation league and the schools. How can they be best motivated? Which are the different ways in which they can be more involved with the CBF? It is an excellent meeting and I feel that I have not only learned much about how things work here but we have also brainstormed a lot of ideas for how things can be improved.
Later in the day we visit both SLMB and St. Francis. Saint Francis School currently has 129 kids playing in the CBF league; almost a fifth of the total for Makeni. While we visit the various classrooms, checking on school attendance, a school employee patrols the school yard with a cane, sending all the boys lurking outside scuttling off into their various classrooms in panic. Another boy is whacked on the wrist for wearing a bangle to school. He immediately removes it and gives it to the school head. When I grew up in England the cane was still in use in some schools. Although I am totally against it in principle I do wonder when I think about how out of control many kids now are in the UK, with a total disrespect for authority. There is an order and a sense of authority to the schools in Sierra Leone that is totally, totally lacking in the United Kingdom.
After our school visits I pay a visit to the 'St. Mary's' and 'Adnans' supermarkets. This is the first time I have stepped foot inside a supermarket in Sierra Leone. Both stores are Lebanese-owned and remarkably well stocked by African standards. A box of breakfast cereal costs £5; a tin of corn is £3. A chocolate fix care of a Snickers will set you back £1.10; a tin of beans £1.20 and the cheapest bottle of South African wine is £5. A small tin of Nescafe instant coffee is a whopping £4. Clearly I won't be shopping in here too often during my time in Sierra Leone and clearly the average local would never ever dream of setting foot inside these air conditioned doors (the only air conditioned environment I have so far experienced). I treat myself to a cold ginger beer that tastes like the best ginger beer in history, some instant Nescafe for breakfast and a bag of awful gone off Lebanese nachos that I instantly regret eating.
I successfully manage to walk back to the Restless Development office alone for the first time using the various schools I have visited as my geographical points of reference. Back in the office I write up my notes from the day and finish last Friday and Saturday's blogs but I am flagging badly by 2pm. I spend the latter half of the day trying to read up and educate myself about the history, geography and people of Sierra Leone.
Back at home I have to cool myself down with a cold bucket shower. Jayne, meanwhile, manages to lock herself out of her room, leaving Alasund to try and break the door down with the handle of a machete. Dinner is a delicious ground nut soup that is not unlike a spicy curry when added to rice. Famarta tells Jayne she wishes she had white skin like hers while Jayne tells her that in the UK people are obsessed with trying to turn their skin darker. You always want what you can't get, they say.
Alasund has managed to buy a litre or two of oil and fuel so we can have some electricity after dinner. He shows me how to switch off the generator so that he doesn't have to hang around in the evenings. Alasund tells me that on Monday certain street stalls will be outlawed in the capital. It seems like madness on the face of it. What will all of those people do to make a living? Surely there will be multiple incidents where the police forcedly evict traders that will lead to clashes?
My day ends in the back yard where I switch the noisy, smelly generator off and carry it into the house. This experience is certainly making me appreciate having a regular electricity supply when living in Europe.
More Than a Game joined The Collective and the Craig Bellamy Foundation in Sierra Leone for a seven-week voluntary placement in January 2013.