Friday, January 18, 2013 (Day 9)
The pre-dawn morning call to prayer is the loudest to date. It is, after all, Friday. The sound is comforting, hypnotic and dream inducing.
I walk to the office for the first time with the girls and then pay a visit to ENCISS. The good people of ENCISS are trying to make internet usage available to as many local people as possible and, between the hours of 10 and 1, visitors are able to come and use free internet for an hour if there are spaces available. This is the first time I have been online since I arrived in Sierra Leone. I am reconnected to the world. Logging on gives me a strange feeling of excitement tinged with dread. Finally, finally, I am able to post my first couple of blogs. Time is short so I will play catch up early next week.
Makeni Alex, Bob and I walk to the education ministry where we meet with the district deputy minister of education for Northern Sierra Leone, Madam Haja Ramatu Kanu. We want the ministry's support for some of the CBF's community work. The deputy minister tells us she is not willing to agree to anything until a file is put together about the aims and work of the organisation. We politely apologise for not having provided all of the information she wants and agree to meet her again on Monday; returning back to ENCISS to prepare the material she needs.
While the lads finish off the last of the documents for Monday's rescheduled meeting, I quickly catch up with my emails. Bolton Nick, who moved out to Dubai the same week as I flew here, seems to be settling in well. Sean, who does some great work with the Brian Faul Foundation in Latvia, gets in touch to tell me he has been reading the blog and is going to promote my website through his foundation's website. Dav tells me former Sierra Leone footballer Ibrahim Bah lives three doors away from him and his wife has been reading my blog, which makes me chuckle at the thought.
When ENCISS kick us out at 1pm we continue our work at Bob's home, preparing photographic squad sheets for this weekend's fixtures. Most of the CBF people appear to do far more hours than the two per day in their stipends.
We meet the CBF ladies up at the stadium where we plan to prepare for our non-violence community project. As is the case in many countries, inter-school fights break out whenever schools play one another. The boys were going to prepare today for a community project condemning this behaviour but unfortunately groups of older boys from their two schools were involved in a fight after their school match. This incident does however give us a perfect case study to work with in the coming days with the community project now put back until Monday. I have also had an idea for how we might be able to help stop the inter-school fights.
Back at the office I bang out blogs and write up reports until ten to five when I walk down to the Azzolini Highway for an after work beer with Jayne and Kate at a street bar. I must admit the 7.5% Guinness goes straight to my head and I feel slightly tipsy on two small bottles. It is Friday night. I treat myself to a Dairy Milk caramel from the Lebanese shop and give a boy selling ground nuts the cash for a small bag.
I get up in the night desperate for the toilet. My torch is almost dead and I nearly end up with the massive spider that is currently residing in our bathroom at nights on the top of my head. In fact, I am so unnerved by the incident, coming as it does at 3am, that I can't face going back in there in the pitch dark. What is a man to do? Needs must I find myself peeing into a discarded water bottle. It is not a pretty sight but it is not a sight anybody can see.
I was expecting it to be twice as noisy as a normal tonight with it being Friday and yet it is the quietest night since we moved in. I must confess to feeling a little lonely, uncomfortable and tired tonight. I actually find myself counting down the days to my departure.
More Than a Game joined The Collective and the Craig Bellamy Foundation in Sierra Leone for a seven-week voluntary placement in January 2013.