Sunday, August 21, 2011

Reflections as we end the trip. August 10

We end with some pictures of our friends...

Gladys, our former housekeeper and cook,

Prince, now a successful computer engineer,

and Dr. Desmond Williams, project advisor for Project 1991.

The dark glasses are hiding are our new identity; not really, just hiding an eye infection called Apollo (pink eye) common in the rainy season.

And lastly our reflections on the trip....
Why Sierra Leone for vacation? Why not England, France, or California? That’s not easy to explain. We lived here from 2008-2009 in a comfortable apartment with a distant view of the ocean and electric power one day out of three (or less). It’s a crowded city; some key roads between towns such as Freetown and Bo and Kenema were partially unpaved (but now are paved). And the Krio common language is one I was not very good at learning.

So why are we here again? I guess it comes down to the people. It sounds like an over-used phrase, but people for the most part are genuinely friendly, welcoming. And I wanted to see some of my former students again. (We got here after most had finished their semester, however).

Both Betty and I wanted to see if the human rights volunteer service some of my students were continuing could be formalized into an on-going initiative with at least some funding. And Betty has been commissioning two local artists and encouraging their work as creative sign painters. And she, along with people in Hattiesburg, are funding the education of several local children at a primary school and wanted to visit them.

Also, we like being at least tangentially involved in a country’s development. The U.S. is so vast, one rarely notices impact of one’s contributions, but there – and here- local initiatives do make a difference.

Finally, we prefer to be at least somewhat out of our comfort zone, away from the mesmerizing effect of constant texting, emails, cell phone calls, computers. Life in the U.S. can be very fulfilling; but we want to know what’s going on in other parts of the world and, if possible, be a part of it.

We’re back home in Hattiesburg, MS. It’s summer HOT. The television news is mostly about the U.S. again. Classes are starting. Betty’s new book of African photos paired with African proverbs is out (and beautiful).

I only hope that amidst the hustle and noise of daily life, exciting and rewarding as it is, we can keep a bit of Sierra Leone in our thoughts, rejoicing at their progress, recalling the challenges there. And if you’ve traveled with us this far – I wish the same for you and all the best in your daily life.

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