On Friday of this week Lee and Ilean Hollaar are leaving for Sierra Leone to begin over a month of work with the new faculty and staff at the CRC primary school kabala. They are looking forward to the experience and will be bearing gifts to the school from communities here in Canada.
Lee and Ilean will arrive a week prior to Presidential Runoff elections. The opposition party has already won a majority of seats in the cabinet. APC leader Ernst Bai Koroma and SLPP current vice-president Solomon Berewa will face a second round of polls on September 8. Koroma lead in the first round but without enough to win the presidency directly. Thus far there have been few incedents of violence, and we all hope that peace will prevail and the outgoing government and supporters will go quietly.
When the Hollaars arrive in Kabala, they will be adding updates and photographs to the blog. They will celebrate the school opening and the first children filling the classrooms!
Monday, August 20, 2007
As some of you may know Sierra Leone is waiting for the results of an election which took place on the 12th of August. Ballots are still being counted and the results will likely be in this week. The ruling party (Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP) under former vice president Solomon Berewa is currently standing in second place with around 35% of the vote. The frontrunners are former opposition party All Peoples Congress (APC) headed by Ernst Bai Koroma with 45%. In third is the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), a split off from SLPP lead by Charles Margai: nephew and son to Sierra Leone's first and second presidents after independence in '61. With no party taking 55% of the vote there will likely be run-off elections between APC and SLPP. Charles Margai of PMDC is now backing the APC. Those I have talked to in the country are still concerned about the possibilities of violence, particularly in Freetown. But thus far voting and rallies have all occurred peacefully. In spite of accusations on the part of the leading parties, UN observers have stated that the elections were free and fair. Hopefully this will continue as the next round of voting will likely take place in September.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
so I have been back from Sierra Leone for a month and a half. It feels like yesterday and it feels like a world away. I have been in regular contact with the headmaster and school board chair to get updates on the construction. It is exciting but also frustrating not to be there to see things through. In my absence things continue but decisions are made in a different manner than they were. These adjustments are necessary for the autonomy of the school, but slow things down a little. Fortunately the workers are committed to seeing this project through in spite of any setbacks.
The furniture and the latrines are the two things remaining to be done. The buildings are painted, sealed, and electrified, with blackboards installed. The teachers have visited the site and are eager to be teaching in such a wonderful space. Johanna Kuyvenhoven related to me their first visit to the school where one of the teachers asked "so how many classes will be in this room?" One class per room and one teacher per thirty students!! They are looking forward to the arrival of several more visitors at the beginning of september. Lee and Eileen Hollaar will be in Sierra Leone as a support to the staff to help shape some of the aspects of the curriculum and school that will make it unique among schools in the country. It will also be a chance for me to send greetings and gifts for friends in Kabala, as well as support for my AD Stars club!