Wow, I can’t believe I’ve been here for nearly a month! Six months really is going to be here before I know it.
Now into week three of my work it’s amazing how quickly time has flown. The rainy season has officially arrived and even the short few steps from the car to the house following a lovely weekend at the beach resulted in my housemate and I getting well and truly soaked. The thunder and lightning show was also pretty impressive and the drowned rat looks equally so.
The week started productively with a programme planning meeting with one of our trainers; Sister Wani of the National Malaria Control Programme, aligned to the Ministry of Health. Due to the ebola outbreak in West Afica and more recently the eastern districts in Sierra Leone (don’t worry I’m in the western area) we have had to rethink our roll out plan due to being unable to mobilise our faith leaders and volunteers in Kailahun and Kenema, the areas where our programme has a stronghold but sadly the ones that most affected by the ebola outbreak. We discussed with her the opportunity to saturate the district of Port Loko where we already have some faith leaders but also the malaria prevalence is high and usage of bed nets low. What we also decided to do was take the opportunity to educate where possible on the signs and symptons of ebola and how best to keep the communities and the families within the specific Chiefdoms safe from transmission. We concluded that we were perfectly placed to educate on both and have built this into our plans for training at the end of the August. Next week we will be attending both the Roll Back Malaria and Ebola work stream meetings and I feel very privileged to be able to attend and contribute to such important meetings along with both government and ministry officials.
I just wanted to say, for those that have expressed concern of me being here while ebola cases continue to sadly rise, please don’t worry. I have a lovely group of friends, colleagues and experts around me that are monitoring the situation daily. We know and are following all preventive measures and if the need arises plans are in place to move out of Freetown as soon as a button is pushed. However important this opportunity and the future success of Faiths Act programme are to me, I will not take any risks and will follow the guidance of GSK and the TBFF NGO so although I appreciate that it can sound alarming from how it’s being reported in the news please don’t panic as on the ground we are taking it seriously.
Right, on a lighter note, I started learning Krio this week and that was a lot of fun! It’s an interesting mix of English and African and is the native language of the the Sierra Leone Creole people or Krios, (a community of about 300,000 descendants of freed slaves from the West Indies, the US and UK – hence the capital’s name ‘Freetown’) as well as being the second language after English to millions of other Sierra Leoneans. We spent the whole first lesson covering off greetings alone as this is an important part of their friendly, open culture. I think my favourite question so far is the one for ‘how are you’; ‘aw di bodi?’, literally meaning ‘how is your body’? Simple.
Outside of work and Krio lessons I’ve had another couple of lovely weekends exploring the beautiful beaches of Freetown; Bureh and Hamilton, pics attached. There isn’t that much to see unfortunately in Freetown but the beaches at the weekend make up for it and are a lovely respite from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. I’m trying to snap up as many sunshine hours as possible before the rain takes hold. Today’s storm (which is still continuing seven hours later) turned the roads into torrents of water and this is just the beginning…