Tuesday, January 30, 2007

 

Back in Makeni and busy....

I caught a picture of Mariatu today at an old typewriter that I thought were consigned to the museum until I came to Sierra Leone. A casualty of no electricity.



Sorry but these blogs have been slow coming. Quite a lot has been going on since I arrived back from Bo. Local taxes are quite a new phenomenon for people here and I have been organizing local meetings at the weekends for councilors to attend and explain and for people to voice concerns and questions. The meeting on Saturday afternoon was excellent. A turnout of 120 people and the outcome was far better than expected. People were keen to come and pay their bill and Monday was busy at Town Hall. I have also arranged for people to pay at the bank although not many are familiar. All of this is probably too boring and I’ll reserve more for a later blog.

My last entry was from Bo and I was concerned about getting back to Makeni. I didn’t want to take the poda podas. The 18 people stuffed into a Mazda van of unknown vintage and obviously poor condition did not appeal to my better senses, especially given the terrain that I had encountered on the way down enjoyed in a landcruiser run by the NGO, Action Faim. I called Pascal at Action Faim but bad news; no vehicle this week. More bad news. I had gone to the bank and found that my pouch with the travelers cheques had been lifted. A visit to the police station was an experience in itself and the subject of another blog. Feeling somewhat deflated I went round the corner to the store that sold mars bars. This is also the store that the NGO people seem to shop and I came across an Irish accent reaching also for a mars. Fergul Ryan from Dublin works for CARE, a large NGO and heavens above yes a landcruiser leaving in the morning. The only problem was that one of his drivers had hit and killed a pedestrian that evening and the depot was closed in case of reprisals from the community!!!. I considered my options and still didn’t like the idea of the poda podas. So the CARE cruiser vehicle picked me up after lunch and we took the long (but air conditioned) journey back.

Today I went to a small village Baikolo where the local councilor Ishmael Bangura is planning a food processing operation funded by a branch of the UN. The small building is just getting under way and I was given the royal tour. Various products such as milled rice and garri (a cassava product) are to be prepared and sold. Ishmael also showed me a place where handicapped people were making farming tools. I was interested in this as a community of women farmers had complained about their lack of such implements. Most farmers are women here. The handicapped people were almost all amputees or polio victims and they deftly showed their skill at blacksmithing old car metal into farm implements. Trevor Taylor would be interested to see this I thought. I agreed to buy some farm implements and I’ll find out from the community of farmers what they need.

Another day, another.. haircut and instead of a close up I’ll send this pic of my darkened room (no electricity) with me at the computer.


Another vignette is this boy up a 40 ft palm tree at the back of my house. He risked life and limb deftly climbing up to get just a few cocoanuts for his family.

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