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  • Writer's pictureDr. David Jordan

Sunday, Jan 7, 2024- BO, Sierra Leone:

Updated: Jan 11

Today began our first full day of work here in the West African nation of Sierra Leone, a country of more than 6 million people with a median per capita income of less than $900/year, USD. A very poor nation with a proud tradition, the country's education, healthcare ,and business infrastructure, has suffered, since the since the end of its civil war in 2002.

Our work, since beginning our Seven Hills Global Outreach efforts in 2010, has been to focus on educational projects and to offer medical and public health services. 

Today, we began our morning by attending church services with our partner, Pastor Michael Kanu, which is always an amazing experience.  Be they of Christian or Islamic faith, people in this very poor nation have deeply held religious beliefs and traditions which permeate every aspect of their lives. We were embraced by the many hundreds who attended.  

In the afternoon our SHGO team traveled to our bush/jungle school and medical center campus in Bandawa, to tour the facilities and talk to our Chief Health Officer and nurses. On Monday, schools once again open and we expect over 250 children, having walked miles, to attend our Bandawa school, and another 450 to come to our BO city school.  After meeting and discussing medical needs at our clinic we all trekked into the bush to one of the villages we serve—the actual village of Bandawa.  

It was hot, humid, and tiring but we made it to Bandawa and I was able to rekindle some old friendships with village children and adults.  As context, Bandawa is very much like what you might imagine in watching a Nat Geo special.  People live in mud huts, cook outside using the traditional 3 stone method, and have little in terms of outward wealth. They live simply yet with dignity and a sense of community rarely seen in the US.  All the children are cared for by everyone , people are quick to smile and laugh, and quickly embrace an old friend from Worcester , MA who they have come to know over the past 15 years of annual visits. We talked about their need of a wooden bridge across a dangerous stream and we talked about needing a small plot of land to build housing for nurses from our medical clinic 2 miles away.  In the end they agreed if we helped them build a bridge across the river they would make available land for our nurses quarters. In the end they were all smiling,  the many children were laughing and our newest team members - Brian, Sunday, Patrick, Grover and Nancy - were caught up in the joy of the moment when two groups of people from very different cultures and backgrounds can embrace each other for the common “humanness” we share.  

That is the essence of our work at Seven Hills Global Outreach; to diminish our differences and celebrate our common characteristics. As always, Tracy was surrounded by the children who love to hold her hand and just look at her.  Brian and Sunday, my Seven Hills Foundation colleagues, have been nothing short of remarkable in their interactions with the villagers and the jungle environment. (Brian confessed he had never seen real bananas growing wild in trees), Patrick, our professional photographer and Seven Hills friend for over 25 years, is doing everything imaginable to capture the spirit of our work here, and the mutual affection between us all. Andy is so deeply inquisitive about all he encounters and there are many moments I catch him looking at his daughter Tracy with the live and pride only a father can possess. Our friends from Texas, long supporters of SHGO in our work in Sierra Leone, have brought and shared insights that only people who have lived long—and been married long—can bring.  It’s an honor to have them with us.  

Tomorrow morning we head to the new community library we built last year through SHGO and which today houses over 15,000 books so that children and adults can explore the world through reading, and, hopefully use that as a springboard in pursuit of an education. Tomorrow afternoon, we hike deep into the bush to a village called Kaonaeabu, to dedicate a brand new school we have built through SHGO for 6 of the most remote villages we serve. The funding for this new school came from our friends the Sherlins, along sponsors of the annual Running 4 Clean Water event in Texas, and others.  The remote village leaders, children, and mothers are so excited and we will all be signing and dancing native traditional dance in the jungle tomorrow afternoon.    

These SHGO trips I’ve led over these past 15 years with my Clark University students and alum, Seven Hills staff, and donors, have never ceased to amaze me in what good anyone can do to effect the lives of desperately poor children with just a modicum of money and some effort.  We can ALL do something good for others if we decide to act.   

Check out tomorrow’s blog with photos of the new bush school dedication.  In a personal note, if it were not for my wife, Dr. Kathee Jordan, supporting my dream to build schools and clinics in very poor parts of our world over these 15 years since establishing SHGO, our work wouldn’t have been possible.  So to her I say, “thank you,” for believing in this work, and for giving me the time and space to carry it out.  More tomorrow. 

Dr. David Jordan 

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