Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Obama; schools for Sierra Leone; research; Saharan dust

• Obama. Everyone I know in Freetown was scrambling around to find where to watch the inauguration on TV. The American Embassy provided live coverage in about ten locations; local restaurants featured it. I watched eight hours of live coverage with neighbors in a very modern, three-story house next door. It’s an exciting time for the U.S. – and the world.
The sentiment here is that Obama does not just belong to the Americans; he belongs to the world. And many people in our neighborhood still call out “Obama” when they see me. He is inspiring a lot of people at home and abroad. One commentator in the U.S., a Republican speech writer, suggested Obama’s ‘honeymoon’ might be a long one because the problems he faces are so big and everyone wants him – needs him – to succeed. McCain has said some supportive things recently about his ending torture and plans to close Guantanamo. Image shows children in Bo reading an Obama poster which is being sold in the market.

• Schools for Sierra Leone. Some ex-Peace Corps volunteers to Sierra Leone continue to stay abreast of developments in this country – and help when they can. A group of them have been raising funds for and building schools. Cindy Nofziger is Executive Director of a program called Schools for Salone ( ) and has an on-going fund-raising and construction effort underway supported by ex PC volunteers and others.

• Research. I am moving ahead on my research, tracking down former human rights activists and democracy advocates about what they did and how from 1977-2003. It is not always easy to find them, but once I get a cell no. I’m on their trail. And everyone has been most receptive. I use a digital recorder and upload it onto my computer then start the long process of transcribing them.

• Dust. They call it harmattan; the dust that blows in off the Sahara desert. It is so thick that it has obscured the ocean a few miles below our apartment, and even part of the nearer valley. The dust slips in and makes you cough a lot, covering anything left out with a thin, almost invisible coating. But it doesn’t last forever, fortunately.

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