Sierra Leone (Day 5)
Trip Start Sep 28, 2007
20Trip End Oct 12, 2007
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Thursday, October 4
Up at 7:00 am and off to see World Vision as our first NGO (non-governmental organization) . The reason for our meeting was to discuss what activities World Vision does in Sierra Leone and see if there are any partnership possibilities. They have no outreach to the amputees specifically. They were very interested in working with us and sharing their entry and exit strategies as well as their logistics for setting up programs. We learned that World Vision works only in the bush in the very remote villages. It was a good meeting with both of us learning a lot about each other.
From World Vision headquarters were drove to the Children of the Nations school. We understood it to be an orphanage but soon came to find out that all of the children who had lived there had been placed in foster homes in their home villages so it now functioned as a primary school with the addition of secondary school for next year. When we drove through the gates at least 50 children were playing in the school yard (dirt-no playground toys of any kind). We were quickly enveloped by all of these children and Anne-Marie disappeared beneath their outstretched arms and hugs. They were so loving. We had walked into the school and they would not let go of her arms and hugs.
We were welcomed into the directors office and after several minutes of conversation Lynn's (African name of Lizzie) cogs were racing. All of a sudden it became clear that all the pieces to the puzzle could come together with Children of the Nation. By this we mean that we are interested in making sure that all amputee children and the children of the amputees are given the opportunity to attend school. We learned from the director that the founders of Children of the Nations were instituting a new policy regarding children with disabilities and that they would be willing to work with us on a plan to implement this. We will be setting up a meeting with the founders from Poulsbo, WA when we return to the states. Pastor Samai will be meeting with the director to formulate the plan. The one big ticket item we need immediately is a vehicle to transport the children to school and act as a school bus. After a very thorough tour of the school we were on our way once again to a 2:00 pm lunch meeting/snack with board members from GGM-SL at our hotel.
At 7:00 pm we drove to a restaurant for a meeting with amputee chairpersons , advisors and GGM -SL IT students who were planning a skit on our behalf. Any driving in Freetown is interesting to say the least but Anne-Marie decided to catch a ride with Mambud on the back of his motorcyle...perhaps not the smartest thing with the chaos of the roads here! We were greeted at the restaurant by a dozen amputees including the volunteer chairman (such a regal man despite his double arm amputation. He now wears 2 hook type prosthetic devices)of all the amputees in SL and serves on the GGM-SL advisory board. Also from the advisory board was a man from World Bank, a man with an NGO working on research of infant and mother mortality, and several pastors from various communities. We were treated as the guests of honor and everyone was introduced and had their chance to speak. This group holds monthly meetings regarding the needs and progress of GGM-SL. The meeting concluded with a very touching skit presented by the IT amputee students. It portrayed their despair prior to being involved with GGM and the hope, support, and empowerment that they have received from this amazing organization. The evening ended with many hugs, the special SL handshake and a deeper knowledge of the many needs of the amputees in SL.