Monday, January 21, 2013 (Day 12)
Perspective. I think of my Western life with clean running water, regular refuse collection, a fully functioning sewerage system and 24-7 electricity. Imagine if you never had those things as a given again. Little hope of employment and no national health service. And no petrol at the local BP station. Imagine if you had to queue up for three hours just to get a couple of litres of petrol and those litres of fuel cost the equivalent of a day's salary. And fearing that the ache in your stomach is cholera and, if it is, you cannot afford to do anything about it. How would you feel if you knew that your wife only had a one in seven chance of surviving child birth? Or that your life expectancy is 47. Yes, 47. Or that the unrest in the neighbouring country could lead to unrest in your homeland and civil society might break down and the devil would suddenly be lurking in the bushes; by the roadside; in the street where you live.
Today is the most tired I have felt since my first day in Sierra Leone. The culprit? Last night's football match. Charlie phones me from Freetown and tells me he will be up in Makeni on Wednesday to meet me and discuss how my time here is going.
Africa time has played havoc with my day. Things have been achieved but productivity levels have been low. The kids who presented the anti-violence play in front of school assembly on Sunday put in another brilliant performance in the minutes leading up to the Makeni Senior Secondary cup final. With the two teams lined up in front of the crowd and match officials, the children from the Craig Bellamy Foundation tell the two sets of players that there should be no fighting after the match between the two schools. The way the little boys present this to the two teams reminds me a little of the All Blacks doing the Haka, except these boys are all aged around 11 and the 'boys' playing in the final are nearly all in their early twenties.
The final ends 2-1 to the better team and, mercifully, a mass brawl is avoided despite the best efforts of a bunch of rough-edged girls to incite a fight. The half dozen problem-females remind me of rough UK council estate girls. The efforts of the young CBF boys, their coach and the other local CBF staff involved almost certainly prevented a mass brawl between the two schools. This event proves that involving the boys in community projects often leads to positive change in their local community.
More Than a Game joined The Collective and the Craig Bellamy Foundation in Sierra Leone for a seven-week voluntary placement in January 2013.