Thursday, June 28, 2007

Out of Africa

I am having a hard time expressing or contemplating what the last week has been like for me. I am back home in Langley, British Columbia, Canada with many family and friends around to celebrate my return. With everything still fresh in my mind I was sitting on the coach bus travelling from London Gatwick Airport to Heathrow. I could not help overhearing a conversation going on between two American travellers about their house purchases and the reasons why they had taken one house over another because of the fact that it didn't have a large enough walk in closet as if that was the most necessary thing in the world. I thought, "the cost of your closet or renovation for your bathroom might be more than the entire amount of money we put into this school." But I am absolutely convinced that the value of this school in the Kabala community is incomparably more than all the bathroom renovations we have all done put together and multiplied several times. I don't know yet what to think about it all.
I will miss my family in Kabala more than I can imagine over the next months and until I return. They have been unimaginably welcoming and generous. As I walked around the the school compound one last time the morning of my departure I was blown away by what has been done in the last six months. I remember stressing about the construction of the well and now I see a roofed structure nearly in readiness for children to run down its verandas and sit in its desks. I am so grateful to the workers on the site who have tought me so much about construction technique and work ethic. I may have showed them a few things and I know they will miss me as much as I will them. And more importantly I know that they are so committed to seeing this buliding through to completion. They are as proud of it as I am. Just today I received a phonecall from one of the workers. More than half of the windows have been installed and the entire interior of the Administration building will be completed tomorrow. I am sure the classrooms are coming along as quickly. I may have been slightly worried when I left but that word has brought me confidence that we will be ready to receive children by September.
On Sunday morning before I left kabala a group of people gathered together on the school site to carry out a symbollic ceremony. We laid out a line of trees dividing the new football field from the driveway. Our neighbours at the Red Cross Technical Training centre donated 10 trees to the project. I planted a pear (avocado) and others planted Mangos, Oranges and Acacia, each representing a different person, present or not who has given significantly to the project. In the photo JT Koroma the new headmaster is planting a Mango tree. We charge him with caring not only for this little row of trees but with the future students. And we trust that these seedlings will bear fruit as the efforts of many supporters from around the world have born fruit in this project and will likewise bear fruit in the children of Koinadugu District and Sierra Leone.


Sara said...

Welcome back to the West Coast!

Today I watched this music video by Sarah McLachlan and thought it resonated with your post.

kevin and maryjoan said...

We are so happy to hear of your safe return to Swallowfield!

Looking forward to seeing you in person tomorrow at the wedding! Can't wait to hear some stories this weekend!

Welcome back!

Mike Todd said...

Some call it culture shock, but I have a good friend who taught me the term "culture disappointment". All I can say is get used to it, and it'll be OK.