The journey to Lungi is quite an ordeal and we have cargo to transport as well. What we are learning is that everyone wants paying for everything here and they do stuff for you without you arranging any terms and then expect you to pay up. There are smaller boats for example, which you can cross the river on and they deliberately stop short of the shore whereupon 20 guys rush down the beach to pick up the passengers so that they don’t get their feet wet and then charge a small fee. We watched with great hilarity a white man being hoisted up by 2 guys, while he attempted to resist and failed!
The ferry is perhaps the only place other than the beach where we have met white people.
We get chatting to a couple of guys who turn out to be from Rotherham and are also on a Church mission helping at schools etc. We end up chatting most of the way and swap details – they are quality men with real genuine passion. Another God encounter for sure.
It takes a good 4 hours including the ferry crossing before we arrive at Pastor Henry’s house. We have time for a quick survey round The Word Of Life school before sitting down for dinner. Esther, Henry’s wife, fusses around and serves non-stop – we eventually manage to sit her down to enjoy her company. They both are clearly called of God to do the work they are doing here, running the school in order to give the children greater opportunities and spiritual input. Henry and Esther are clearly the Mum & Dad, with a lot on their plate they are clearly running at full pelt to keep the operation running.
The school backs off their home compound which is open in the day and often overrun with the kids, grabbing water from the well or naughtily using the swing which is broken.
We were formally welcomed by the kids the next morning with a sing song and then less informally as they ran up to us in droves with shouts of “Aporto Aporto” while tugging at our skin, all wanting to hold hands. At one point I was engulfed by about 30 of them, all showing affection and interest, all happy and full of energy despite their challenging circumstances. Many of them cannot afford to pay the fees so Henry & Esther subsidise them because they know it’s better than them being at home.
Its time to start the hands on stuff – several guys roll up from nowhere to help us assemble the benches and tables. They look great especially with the cushions. It seems a bit surreal that all the stuff is here to be honest as we made them back in August.
We moved onto mounting 3 large blackboards in the nursery classrooms and then Joe fixed all the rickety door frames while I figured out how we were going to make a swing out of a few bits of scaffolding and a random mix of couplings. By the end of the day we had the swing up and running with the swing seats attached and frame concreted in. A great first day and everyone was happy. The kids were getting a bit excited and hard to control – the teachers were worn out.
James Buckley has been with us throughout – just want to give him a shout out at this point as we haven’t mentioned him much. What a guy, at his age battling with the elements out here – as he regularly states to me & Joe – “We are survivors!” He’s been great on the team and teaches us a lot.
We finished off on Thursday by setting up poles to facilitate basketball & volleyball and Joe made a load of bookshelves out of junk wood, for Henrys office. We then rounded it off with an official donation ceremony with banner and all (they love official stuff here – anything that mentions ceremonies or certificates and they are buzzing). We wanted to get some good footage and pics for you guys back home so you see the impact of the donations you’ve made. Henry cannot thank us enough as we left to make our way back to Freetown – its been an epic couple of days and the kids have moved us; we’ll miss them.