Sierra Leone is probably my favourite country. You will not find friendlier, more welcoming and lovely people anywhere. There are no beaches more beautiful than the ones in Sierra Leone and none with fewer tourists
When I tell people I am going to Sierra Leone they worry about my safety. They talk of civil war it ended in 2002 but it sticks in peoples memories. Ebola was more recent and devastated the country but it is nearly 3 years ago and there have been no new outbreaks. I think people have a tendency to conflate all the problems of West African countries and put them all together. So Boko Haram and Isis affiliated groups in some peoples minds operate in all West African African countries. Sierra Leonians take tolerance seriously living together in harmony, with Christians and Muslims living peacefully together. I feel safer in Sierra Leone than in almost any other country.
Another side of Sierra Leone is areas of grinding poverty. The new President has made education free for all but this will take a long time to create real change. What is certain is there is a real desire to improve the lives of Sierra Leonians.
The photograph is of a boy scavenging for something to sell. Unlike most African kids I encounter he doesn’t smile and for good reason. No photo can do justice to the reality of being on the dump in Freetown Sierra Leone. It’s not the smoke, the smell or the dirt it’s the realisation that this is peoples reality- their life. Their short life probably as it’s unlikely that with the poisonous fumes, smoke and dirt that they will live for long. The large crowded graveyards alongside contain many Ebola virus victims as it swept through this community as well as those that have succumbed to respiratory diseases and others. There are no old people here.
I am here to work with a group of kids who live on the dump on an intensive 3 day Rubbish Science workshop. Can we really change the way people think in this time? Can I help give them the problem-solving skills that might allow them to escape this reality?
Rubbish Science aims to improve health, water and food security by teaching scientific literacy through problem-solving approaches. Want to create a hand wash station that uses the sun to sterilise water? You can with two plastic bottles and a packet of crisps/chips – How? Follow this blog and you will see