Day 3, Sierra Leone
January 8, 2023 - BO, Sierra Leone :
As we end another long day in Sierra Leone I can’t help but reflect on our experiences of today. Today we spent the morning at the new community library SHGO built then dedicated back in May, 2022. I’ve talked in past blog updates about the work we have done here in Sierra Leone in establishing two child birthing clinics, a medical clinic, dentistry, and the vast amount of public health initiatives in digging 24 clean water wells and an equal number of village latrines. Just the clean water wells and toilets alone have reduced child mortality under the age of 5 by 80% among the 26 villages where we work. Our Seven Hills health and medical efforts have averted hundreds of deaths in children over the years we have served these communities. With our healthcare facilities built and operational we have begun to redirect our SHGO efforts to literacy and education. The building of the new community library ( in a slum area of BO) this past year serves as our commitment to fostering education for children both in the City of BO as well as the jungle/ bush villages. Education is the one surest way of moving children out of abject poverty. This new library - along with 2 schools we’ve built over the years - is intended to offer an opportunity for the poor. After reviewing the work accomplished since the opening of the library in May our SHGO team, along with our Sierra Leonian partner, began a discussion of how we could further improve upon how the library is operated and offer more potential benefits for children in the community. Adding more internet capable computers for local children was decided upon ( and thanks to Peter Demko’s skills we will pursue adding more terminals) and Marissa Ruff suggested we obtain educational computer software so that even children from the depths of poverty could learn by having fun. Later in the afternoon we participated in the dedication of a new church being opened by our long SHGO partner, Zion Ministries and Pastor Michael Kanu. It was a moving and joyous event gathering together hundreds of people with one of the speakers calling for Sierra Leonians to take on a new way of thinking about their circumstances - a shift in mindset about economic, educational, and spiritual circumstances.
As we do in every SHGO work trip, I gather our team every evening to discuss chapters of a book we read together concerning the country we are in. While in Sierra Leone we will be reviewing and sharing our thoughts on “A Long Way Gone” by former Sierra Leonian rebel child soldier , Ishmael Beah. Perhaps the highlight of each day comes after our evening meal when we each share ONE “pearl” - a thought, sight, experience, or interaction with someone that most resonated with us during the day. Each team member is given uninterrupted time to share their individual ‘pearl’ and it is in those very raw moments that we all learn from and with each other. Tonight sharing of pearls was no exception - I cannot fully express the admiration I feel for Isaac, Marissa, Andy and Peter for their willingness to live in less than comfortable circumstances for 10 days while being asked to engage in so many different activities throughout the day. They are a remarkable group of colleagues and friends.
Tomorrow we rise early and head out into the jungle and walk 10 miles out to 6 of the most remote villages we serve. It will be exhausting , humid, and sometimes a bit challenging as we cross over streams on bound wood walkways. In one of these villages we are building a new school for children in grades 1-4. This is the first school this region of Sierra Leone has ever had; and will cultivate the first generation of literate children. This furthers our SHGO commitment to making educational opportunities available to children. In tomorrows blog update I will post photos of our team as we trek through the bush to help establish this new school for very poor children.
Until then, please know we are all well as we further our Seven Hills Global Outreach commitment to uplifting those in need across 8 countries. Follow our work at www.SHGO.org. More to follow tomorrow.
Dr David A Jordan ( Dr J)