Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Melissens Trip!

Hey all,
If you're interested in what's going on in Kabala,
Check out the Melissen's stories about their life there so far...
they've added some pictures as well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Farewells Again

The hard part as always. Saying goodbye to these beautiful people. Yesterday was a day of celebrating and thanksgiving. We had dinner at the church with friends with much singing, dancing and prayers and lots of rice to share. We are packed up and on our way out of Kabala. We will spend a few days with Dr. Jo Kuyvenhoven in Freetown before we leave on Friday.

As we left school this morning there was a long queue of parents wanting to register their children of grade one and the few spots in 2-5. The school will be at 150 by September. This has been a very sweet time for us but our hearts are turning toward home. Little Jonas is making slow but steady recovery at Children's. We are eager to see them all. Thank you for your prayers. Hoping to see you all soon.

Friday, July 11, 2008

School Closing

We were greeted by good news today when we opened emails. Lots of reason for thanks as it seems that healing is happening for the Struyk boys. Our hearts and prayers remain with them. We are eager to share with our friends what all of this praying around the world is doing. God is good.

We had our last official day at school today. We had a three hour meeting of the CTA, the Community and Teachers Association. Very good to see a crowd of teachers. We were able to share our vision for Christian education. Jenny talked about the good things that are happening in the classrooms here. The parents are so pleased with what they see happening here. I was very humbled by these beautiful and grateful people. This means so much and they are so full of hope.

Monday they will hand out report cards (grey sheets) and celebrate July birthdays. Jenny went to Senakadugu on the back of a motor bike with Kumba this afternoon and I had a meeting with JT and the security and maintenance staff. We also had a bit of down time with JT this afternoon. What an amazing guy. I can't imagine that we could have had a better principal. There are many things to think about for the future and many things to discuss when we get back, but I must say that we are really pleased with what was accomplished so far this year. There needs to be continual discussion about sustainability and long term ownership. There is a deep desire to make that happen but complex given the depth of poverty in this part of the world. As they say here, "small, small." Little by little. These things are not in our hands.

We are looking for a bit of a break. I am preaching Sunday and still need to do some work on the sermon. There is a school for the blind that we want to see as well. Too much to do. We leave Tuesday morning for Freetown.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Prayers for Cal and Anita and Their Boys

We answered our emails with some rather shocking news yesterday. Jenny's sister Anita and husband Cal and their four children were in a serious accident on their return trip from Vancouver to Terrace. Cal, Anita and Eryn are doing OK but the boys Tyler, Nathan and Jonas sustained more serious injury and were flown to Children's Hospital in Vancouver. We are most worried about Jonas who has some serious head and neck injuries. The two older boys are awaiting some surgery. Kabala feels like a great distance from Vancouver today. The teachers and children were gathered for prayer yesterday and I can't imagine a more passionate room of praying hearts. Please hold this family in your prayer and pray for complete recovery.

Otherwise we are well. School closes tomorrow. Today we will spend some time at the clinic to do some preperatory work for Adrienne who will work there. There will be a meeting of parents tomorrow and then year one will come to a close. It is very encouraging to see the this is the only school in session in Kabala. They are taking this task very seriously and we see the noticeable difference that it is making.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Into the Details

It was another day of working through some of the details of the past school year. We are putting together the budget for next year and making adjustments. The world food prices have wreaked havoc with people's personal budgets. Rice, which is the staple food here has more than doubled in one year. From 60,000 Leones to 135,000. Everyone is raising the price of every other commodity saying things like, "Well look at the price of rice, the price of this is rising also." The people are at the mercy of these larger trends. This is also the time of lowest supply of all things. Everyone is in the midst of planting. Rainy season does not mean plenty. We will try to address some of these challenges. It also impacts people's ability to pay fees of course. I am reminded of the bounty in which we live, too often taken for granted. Life is cut to the bone here. Jenny has been spending more time in classrooms today getting things ready for the SCS partners back home. Apologies for the lack of photos. They won't attach in the form I have them and I can't seem to compress them.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Day of Meetings

Today we held a meeting of the SMC, the school management committee or school board as it is called here. This means calling people from their regular jobs for a full day of meetings. It went very well and we accomplished much. They ask good questions and give a lot of good advice and direction to JT the principal. We did some planning for the future as well as reviewing what seems to have been a very successful first year. There will be a meeting with the parents this Friday and then they will come back on Monday to receive their children's report cards. And unlike us it seems the new year gets started pretty quick with new registrations and exams for potential new students. This will determine whether or not they get accepted or at what grade level.

Sunday was a wonderful day of worshiping with this community. John had an exellent sermon about the man at the pool of Siloam. He does such a great job of preaching and doing development work at the same time. One reason the man did not get into the pool to be healed is that in 38 years he has not moved himself any closer to the edge. There is a lesson there. We got to church at 9.30 for Sunday school and didn't get home till 1.30. We did some lazing around before dinner and then went to watch a football game. The team, all in blue, due to Jordan's donation of jerseys. They looked sharp and played to a 0 0 draw.

Jenny spent most of her time in the classes today working on bookmarks for the students from Surrey Christian School. They were thrilled to receive the ones from their partners in SCS.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Council Election Day in Kabala

It is a rather quiet Saturday in Kabala today. We walked to the market this morning and it was not the usual bustle that Kabala experiences on a Saturday. It is election day in SL for council positions, sort of like electing members of parliament in Canada. There is a larger than usual presence of policemen and observers and also a number of military police added in for show. A little strange to see people carrying automatic weapons in the open. We then walked to JT, the Headmaster's place to see where he lives and visit for a while. Then to the tailor for some measurements and then home again. We are enjoying a bit of a slower pace today. The week was busy and so will next be. We begin with an important school board meeting Monday. Lots on the agenda. It was another wet rainy night and there are lots of muddy puddles to jump but we are getting around and have the use of one of the 4X4's which helps. We are off to a soccer game.

Friday, July 4, 2008


Last night we had a terrific lightning show. The whole sky lit up for seconds at a time and then torrential rains. The whole day was beautiful; a day of connecting with JT and the staff, visiting with children in classes for stories and lots of laughter and excitment. What a treat to be here. We feel much welcomed and honored. Last night a feast for us hosted by Johanna Kuyvenhoven. The whole thing cost a sacrificial goat and a lot of rice. Singing, dancing and lovely speeches and stories. This school means so much in this community, so much so that it is difficult to put into words. We are ready for a bit of down time. We have been working through some budget questions and preparing for the SMC meeting on Monday. There much to do and think about and both of us lie at night with our heads swimming with questions, possibilities and thoughts. But all is well and the plans are being laid to end this school year and plan for the next.

Oh Can it Rain

Last night we had a terrific lightning show. The whole sky lit up for seconds at a time and then torrential rains. The whole day was beautiful; a day of connecting with JT and the staff, visiting with children in classes for stories and lots of laughter and excitment. What a treat to be here. We feel much welcomed and honored. Last night a feast for us hosted by Johanna Kuyvenhoven. The whole thing cost a sacrificial goat and a lot of rice. Singing, dancing and lovely speeches and stories. This school means so much in this community, so much so that it is difficult to put into words. We are ready for a bit of down time. We have been working through some budget questions and preparing for the SMC meeting on Monday. There much to do and think about and both of us lie at night with our heads swimming with questions, possibilities and thoughts. But all is well and the plans are being laid to end this school year and plan for the next.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

School in the Rainy Season

Another day at CRC Primary School Kabala. Things are well here at school and we are well also. It rained all night, heavily but as we walked to school the last showers were ending and the sun was coming out on a beautiful day here surrounded by the hills in Kabala Sierra Leone. The day was spent in organizing some of the materials that we were able to bring, reading stories to the children, and sitting with JT to organize an agenda for the School Management committee and to talk together about the future of the school, next year’s budget and the many other details of good things happening here that he is so eager to share. The district education inspector came and was full of praise for the school and is holding it up as a model for the community. He wants to invite government representatives to come and see it. He was also full of praise for JT the Headmaster and the quality of teaching going on. But it continues to strike us so profoundly that life is hard here. Nothing comes easy and poverty is very complex. We saw little Nyima last night; still shy and beautiful. Her mom was in a great deal of pain from a foot injury and infection. Quite worrisome. Please pray for these wonderful and resilient people.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Canada Day In Kabala

Our hearts are full!! What else can we say except that we are humbled to see this thing that has come together so wonderfully in this beautiful part of world. We were greeted yesterday noon by a mob of 120 children in blue and pink who had heard that we were on our way and would greet them before the school day ended. We left Freetown at 6.30 am in the morning and headed up north as the rainy season made itself felt; downpours at times and the road ahead a stream of red water 6 inches deep and 20 feet wide. The sun broke through now and again and we are falling under the spell of this tropical rain forest once again.

The children sang their hearts out for us and gave us a spirited and lively display of all the things they are learning. They seem so proud to be students at this school and though I had my doubts about the pink and blue I must say it really stands out. This morning as we made our way to school we could spot them coming from the various lanes and paths toward CRC Primary. The school seems to be the only one that is seriously in session and JT and the staff are determined that their students will do well on the year end tests. So great for us to see them as well even though the regular classes have stopped. We will have lots of opportunity to be with them.

Everyone wants to extend warmest greetings to Kabala Team #1, Jordan, Hannah, Chrissy, Evelyn, Melanie and Leah. They loved all the pictures and cards and are greatful that you remembered them. Everyone is asking about you and about Asher. There are still guys here from the construction crews who want to know about Gino and Hans. The friendships that are growing here are by far the best gift to us all. There is such a sense of pride and amazement about the school.

This morning we had to stand on the flag podium as the Canadian and Sierra Leonian flags were raised and anthems sung. Quite wonderful on this Canada Day to see children singing about the country they love. And to have them sing their hearts out on the Canadian anthem as well. To think about what these children could mean for SL is quite overwhelming. God keep this Land, glorious and free. May He stand guard over it, always.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ending Year One in Kabala

Jenny and I are leaving for Kabala on Saturday and will be visiting the school as it ends its first year of operation. We feel blessed to be there for this important event. We will be able to spend time with the children until school lets out on July 10 after which time we will meet with teachers and the School Management Committee and do some planning for the future. We are excited to pave the way for Johan and Adrienne Melissen who will arrive in late August to take up teaching and nursing positions in Kabala.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Message of Hope

Hey guys, finally got the video working!

This video only portrays a glimpse of the hope this school is giving these kids.
I can't even begin to describe what an incredible impact it made on my life to witness the tangible hope this school is bringing to this town. It is absolutely unbelievable that people who don't even send their kids to this school began crying & hugging me when they were told that I helped build CRC Primary. This school is changing more lives than we will ever be fully able to comprehend.
I am excited to see how far it will have come when I go back "home" in a couple years!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sponsorships - Year Number Two

Just as we are nearing the end of another school year, so is the first year of CRC Primary Kabala coming to an end . The school year is officially over in the second week of July as the rainy season is in full bloom in the country and children will be away from school till the middle of September. The first year of operations has been very successful from a financial point of view. Though parents do pay fees to send their children to the school, and they pay somewhat higher fees to attend our partner school, in fact this falls far short of what it actually cost to successfully operate a school. On top of this challenge, we are paying teachers considerably more than their public school counterparts.

The funds that we raise do not follow one particular child. We have about 120 children in the school. Next year we will add Grade 5 raising the numbers to approximately 150. The school employs a principal, 4 certified teachers, several cooks to prepare the noon meal, day and night security, a maintenance person and an administrative assistant as well as a part time bookkeeper. The operational expenses include many of the same expenses that we have in our schools though the standard of living stretches those dollars much further. Your sponsorship will enable a child to go to school for a year at a school where things are very different from the norm. For $225 a child is getting an education that is really making a difference.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Home is where the heart is - back in Kabala!

We are safely home; and needless to say; had an incredible & life changing journey.
Getting home was very hectic - almost missed some flights, and Jordan's jambee got taken away from him in Toronto - so we are happy to be safe at home at last. However, I know there is a big hole in my heart where my friends and family from Kabala are. It is hard to come home when you feel as if there is now two homes: a foreign one back here in BC, and one where you left your heart, over 3000 miles away in Kabala. I am already excited to travel back and be reunited with my friends & family there. No matter how far away we are; the people of Kabala will always be in our hearts. One of the most important things we learned from this trip is to look at what really matters: God;family;friends. Everything else comes after that. It is still amazing to me how these people who had never met us before could become our very best friends in less than 2 weeks. They opened their hearts to us and showered us with love & blessings from God on high. God is on the move in Africa - and in B.C. - because we will never be the same again. God Bless to our loved ones in Kabala & to all those who helped build this school - it has changed more lives than we will ever be able to fully comprehend.

In Christ;

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A cool day in Kabala (kitchen in progress)

Dear Kabala friends,
Today is Tuesday and we are moving to African time. This is a bit of a stretch to me, because I usually approach each day with an attitude of "what can I bring to this day" rather than "what will this day bring to me". I'm learning. Plans can change at any time. However, we are enjoying the people and each new day brings more familiarity with those we have already met and with the culture here. We are becoming a little less of a peculiarity, although we still frequently hear cries of "white man, white man" as we walk or drive through the town. Yesterday we teachers went to the school and we worked in the resource (supply) room. We unpacked the missing suitcase of supplies and spent the morning reorganizing the supplies that they have now. It's becoming impressive! We sorted it so that it could be stored in a most usable way. The teachers commented that although it's wonderful to recieve materials, they also need to be taught how to use them. We've done that for much of what we brought and organizing it by subject will help, I'm sure. It seems that Math supplies (manipulatives) are least abundant, and we can always add to their supply of library books. Tonight the three teachers are being interviewed on Kabala radio!!!! Steven, the gr. 3 teacher is also a radio dj, so he set us up. He is passionate about impacting all of Sierra Leone, not just the CRC school in Kabala. We're kind of nervous, but hey, why not? It might be translated into Krio as we go, if necessary. Anyways, for the rest of the week we are hoping still to help out at the school, but it is difficult because the classrooms are being re-cemented by contractors. This is a day to day discovery! We had hoped to paint the classrooms but the cement needs time to dry. So, everyone, we are enjoying a cool day for a change. Easter was a big day, with church, river baptisms of 34 children and adults and communion served from the seat of a motorcycle! We have pictures to prove it! So, we hope to update the blog once more before heading for home. Greetings from the team! Stay well, Evelyn

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter

Happy Easter everyone! We are in the midst of celebrating Easter with the CRC in Kabala. They had a church service every evening from Monday to Thursday. Friday morning, all of the churchs in Kabala joined together for a celebration in the town centre. We had church on the main traffic circle in town. There was tonnes of singing and dancing and even a sermon as the motorbikes zipped around us. Unfortunately, we were outside longer than we thought and most of us got a bit of a sunburn.
This week we also had the opportunity to visit Loma Secondary School. This school was started by a christian organization in 1979, but the school has not heard from them since the war. We were asked to speak to the students at their morning assembly, which was much more inimidating than speaking to 100 primary students (and they laughed at my accent :). There classrooms are incredibly crowded. In one class, we counted 123 students. They sit three to a desk and fill the classroom from wall to wall. The classrooms have virtually no materials, so something like a scientific experiment or silent reading is completely out of the question. The principal told us that a teacher may be able to hold the attention of the students at the front of the room, but the rest of the class is probably daydreaming, bullying each other or even gambling. It really helps us understand why CRC Primary is considered a model school. JT Koroma told us that CRC Primary is one of the only schools in Kabala that is even giving out report cards to their students. This school is doing so much good in this community, but it will continue to need lots of support so that it does not become like everyone else.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Last day of School

We have spent the last week in the classes at the CRC Primary School. We have been quite involved as it is report card week for the teachers. We have all spent time in every class doing everything from reading stories to writting letter to SCS kids to parachuting and of course singing. We have all had Kumbaya stuck in our heads for the last 3 days! We have seen many differences but also many similarities. Primary school behaviour seems to be universal :) Today was our last day at the school as they are closed for Easter Break. We got to meet some of the parents of the students and we assisted in handing out report cards. The days ended with a 2 big football games...boys against boys and girls against girls. The kids were wearing their new jerseys. It was sad to see them go but we had a great time together. The teachers also got to spend some time over the last couple of days to share ideas and resources with the teachers of CRC Primary Kabala.
On a more personal note I have had the priviledge of staying with the Sesay family near the school. I am getting good at using a bucket to wash but I always make sure I use the outdoor washroom before dark (to avoid the spiders) They have 21 people living in their house and they all have interesting stories. There are only four children there that are the children of Kumba and Joseph. The rest are distant families members or kids from the villages who come to stay so they can go to school. They are an amazing familiy and I have learned a lot about sacrafice for the greater good. I talked to one of the boys who lost his father to the rebels and another who lost both parents to disease. We need more families like the Sesays who will create opportunities for children in the community.
On a lighter note we are all well and ready for our last week here.
Thanks for your continued prayers,
Leah Meyer
PS Sorry for no picture today

Monday, March 17, 2008

Its warm!

Wow the past weekend flew by. We all went to Yarah to attend church and experience 6 baptisms...pretty amazing! The road to Yarah is INSANELY bumpy and many times we doubted if we were going to make it. The title of this blog has two meanings. While we were in Yarah, Kumba make us some cake in the evening after we arrived. Jordan was especially giddy to eat the cake and said the now famous words, "its warm!" Also the weather here has been VERY hot although last night we had a pretty serious rain/wind storm. Today we went to the school and taught lessons about Canada and played with the parachute which made the kids crazy! We are having an awesome time although the mosquito bites are starting to add up.
God bless from sunny Kabala,

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Whitey Man

Today was an early morning, which turns out for the better as we don't get baked by the sun from the moment we wake up. We woke up at around 6:30 and had some breakfast. We then headed down for our first day at the school. School started at 8:20 with an assembly. All the kids lined up in rows for some singing and dancing. This was followed by J.T. Koroma, the headmaster, introducing us. All the kids were very happy to see us all there and greeted us with the open arms that all the Sierra Leoneons have showed us so far. The people here are truly amazing, and the lifestyle is very social. Krissi's homestay, Robert Jawara drove us to school this morning and we must have stopped ten times to greet people. We saw the hospital, the post office, the prison, the cemetary, and the district office on the way today. While at the school we unloaded and organized all the things that we brought for the school. These things consisted of: clothes, books, frisbees, bubbles, markers, pens, pencils, crayons, pinneys, and other small toys.

Tomorow morning we will be presenting all these things to the kids. Krissi, Hannah and I spent a large portion of the day taking pictures of each kid and asking them questions so the sponorship program can grow,while Evelyn gave out some letters she had from the students at SCS.

One thing that was brought to our attention before we came was that we would be reffered to as "Whitey man" and this is very true! Children run around the streets yelling "Whitey man whitey man!" But what saddens me is that they also say "Give me money." In Freetown we were told by a man that white people were only good for money, so if we did not have any we should leave. This image that the white man is only for money troubles me, but I hope to be a part of changing the way we are viewed in this beautiful country.

The trip thus far has been very eye opening and surely not easy. There have been many tears shed and lives changed. I hope that by the end of this trip we have made a positive impact on the school we have built, as well as the community that surrounds it.

With all our love,


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Travel is Complete!!

pic of us in Kabala, at the CES office balcony

We have safely arrived in Kabala after a couple LONG days of travelling. We haven't been in the same place for over a day yet, so we're pretty excited to finally be staying somewhere we won't have to leave in a few hours. Freetown was very interesting. The airport was an adventure on it's own: once we arrived, people were taking our bags for us without even asking, and once we were outside we were bombarded with marriage proposals and people asking for money. It was a very hard experience. When they were loading up our bags, one guy told us that "This is the way it should be: we work for you white people and you pay us." That's a pretty heartbreaking thing to hear, and I definately had a bit of a break down. After that, we arrived fairly late in Freetown so we checked into Jay's Guest house and we all got our own room! Melanie and our driver Bilalie went to go find some food and came back with chicken and fries! We woke up the next day and headed into town with Bobson, a CES Freetown Representative. We first went to exchange money which ended up happening right through the van window! After we got our money we went into town to buy some mosquito nets, as our own got lost at the airport. The driving in Sierra Leone is very exciting - there are no stop signs or stoplights, and you can drive any speed you want and pass anytime you want. It seems the only rule is that you have to honk constantly, so it's pretty crazy! Freetown was INCREDIBLY busy - people everywhere, both walking and driving, and there are markets almost everywhere you go. Nothing anyone explained to us could have prepared us for this trip, as it seems almost everywhere you go, poverty has hit really hard. It's crazy how Africa has the ability to break your heart & open it at the same time, but it does.

Yesterday I had another pretty crazy experience. When we were waiting at our guest house for the car to take us to Freetown, I went downstairs to talk to the guard and a couple of the workers. We sat there and talked for almost an hour, and afterwards one of them asked me to go to the market - which is something I shouldn't have done without asking, but as we all know, when I get really emotionally overwhelmed, I don't think very straight. (I'm sorry mistake). However, despite that, I am glad I went, because on the way back from the market, the two guys I was walking with told me something very hard to hear. They said I was the first white person they had ever met that had ever talked to them like friends, and the first white person to be really genuinely nice to them. This broke my heart - they told me how most white people they meet just come here to tour and the most they say is "take this bag up to my room". It's hard to accept that your own culture has made so many mistakes, but that's why we are here, to change the way we see the world, and the way the rest of the world sees us. How can someone I just walked to the market with call me his best friend? I don't know, but that's just how amazing these people are.

For now, we are safely in Kabala, with our host families. Everyone here is amazing, and we're excited to go to the school and meet the kids. We'll write more later!

With God's love from Kabala,

Monday, March 10, 2008

safely arrived

we have received word that the group has safely arrived in Freetown. They called from Lungi to say they were on their way over on the Kissy Ferry to Freetown. I can just imagine the sights and sounds of their first hours in Africa! It is a beautiful ride through the country over the water, and through the crowds of the city. Praise the living God! Hallelujah!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

New blogs forthcoming..

Sorry for the long wait. I am in the middle of my final thesis semester and am incredibly busy. It is going well. But as exciting as me being finished is that there are 6 people heading to Kabala in a few weeks time to spend over two weeks at the school. There are three students and three teachers from FVCHS and SCS. Hopefully they will be able to use this address to post images to the blog from. 
I'll include a few pictures from my thesis work because obviously I have no new photos since my journey to Kabala in January. One is a model of standardized rammed earth formwork I am working on. The other a sideways photo of a potential water tower design. Fragments of the larger picture of my thesis  which is becoming clearer to me and that I will hopefully be able to share with you as well. (sorry I'm too busy to change it now)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

a world away

Sitting in my studio at school the snow is coming down outside and over 3 inches have already collected on the ground. It reminds me of the many times I have tried to explain to students in Kabala how the 'cold' they are experiencing at this time of year is nothing compared to the cold in North America.
The last few days at school were wonderful. I got to spur on orange house for the upcoming sport this spring. I promised them all that I will be back. When I don't know! But I am sure I will be back.
There is so much potential for this school. For new development, for producing excellent work, and for graduating wonderful students. Just look at their faces! The community in Kabala is so proud of their accomplishment in building this school and of the children that attend it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I need to extend so many greetings to all the partners of this project on the other side of the ocean in Canada the US and elsewhere. Students and teachers continually express their sincere thanks and prayers for all of you. There are still some significant things to be done to complete the school as it exists right now. A temporary kitchen will be built in the next weeks to begin the food program. The latrines will also be begun again. In addition there is still furniture to be built and some finishing work to be done.
Yesterday I met with the Paramount Chief to give greetings and present him with a map of the town. While he expressed his thanks, he also presented a challenge. To begin a primary school that has high standards and then let those children go back into the existing secondary schools would be a futile endeavour. So he has given a challenge to us to be able to build a secondary school for those children to complete their schooling in. And he is willing to provide the necessary land for us to be able to do so. He is one of many people here who have also invested themselves and their children in this. The school truly has the ability to make a difference in the district and in the country.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

meetings and more meetings

trying to wrap things up here in Kabala with a few days left. Had a productive meeting with the School management committee. Also managed to 'snap' all the children present at school today! Not individually like they had wanted but it was a hastle enough as it was. Trying to get kids to 'laugh small' so we wouldn't see the usually somber expressions for the camera. The girl on the right has a brilliant smile... this is as much as I could get. The clearing of the field is coming along very well. Tomorrow I will hopefully do more particular measurements of the site for topography etc. to help with my Thesis design work.
Sorry for the small (and fuzzy) pictures. My normal photo editing programs are down, along with many other computer functions (any mac help for "carbon library" problems??)

Monday, January 7, 2008

small blessings, big blessings

They chant that this is the CRC Primary a very "powerful" school as they march to the classrooms. Being the first day back the classes are still lacking students, but by tomorrow they will be full again. This is partly for the promise that I will "snap them all, na one one" (by themselves)! The Class 1 students are rascals but apparently they are doing so well. Some very inquisitive and brilliant children in all the classes. It was hard to express (to the children or to you) what it is like to see them occupying these buildings that I helped to bring about. I guess each person who has given to the project in different ways sees the fulfillment of their commitments every day in various parts of the school.
To the children of Surrey Christian School, the kids here are so excited to have receive letters from you and are looking forward to making drawings and letters to send back to you. They really see their partners in Canada and the U.S. as true friends for you committment to them.
There is still plenty to be improved and bring the school up to its full potential. These are things that the school staff, myself and others will be working on throughout this new year. Plans to finish what has begun, and to dream dreams for the future development.
The school field is being enlarged in both directions. Generous gifts have made possible the erection of goal posts, flag poles and some other sports equipment for the school. These efforts will be undertaken in the next weeks. There are four 'houses' that will be created in the new year for these sporting events. Orange, Red, Green, and Blue. They have also been given names - as yet undisclosed. (similar to my AD Stars - so the patrons of the houses will need to be asked for their acceptance).
Speaking of the AD Stars - I have not yet seen them play but I have heard good things about their play. They have registered with the district office (among about 20 other teams) and will therefor be informed of all 'galas' that are being played. At the same time, I realize that when the odd scrap breaks out (and I shouldn't say 'odd' because it happens all the time) the AD on the jersey refers to me and reflects on me. So I am making sure that the conduct of the players will continue to be worthy of the jersey, even at the cost of a few games. There were many village to village competitions over the holidays. Unfortunately most of whatI heard about any of them was how they ended in big disputes, scraps, or brawls. What can I say, they take football seriously!

Friday, January 4, 2008

relearning what it means to go "small small"

so while I had ambitious plans to have many things done by this weekend and relax a bit next week that will not happen! I guess that because I am missing a week of school this coming week I should really be working hard then anyway. So much to think about and try coordinate and people to meet with! Today I am travelling to Mapaki to meet with some fellow canadians doing some amazing work there with organizations called Centre for Peace and Development and also Peaceful Schools International. Carolyn VanGurp has helped to set up the first remote village internet connection in Sierra Leone (solar powered). I am excited to see their work and learn from it together.
The pictures are from New Years and one from an evening spent playing around with a flashlight on my phone and my camera. Kabala is slowly emptying of people from the new years celebrations. Things will return to their normal pace on monday. I am also feeling like I have been here longer than 5 days!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Christmas in Vancouver.... New Years in Kabala, Sierra Leone

I have now been in Sierra Leone for almost four days. I went from wet snow in vancouver to dry weather and 25 degrees! People think I am crazy here because I don't feel the cold. The winds are blowing through Kabala so it gets 'cold' in the evenings.
After arriving Sunday I went to visit the school. It is no longer the 'site.' It is now a real school and it is amazing! And that is without any students around. I cannot wait until monday when the students will all return from the holidays. I am hoping to spend long hours just walking around the school and seeing the children in classes and dreaming bigger dreams for developing the school and the area around it.
Unfortunately the internet here is not working great and I cannot load pictures of the school right now.
New years Eve was spent greeting many people. There were a long line of visitors to the house, and I took the afternoon to visit various homes in Kabala. There is not a big party during the evening. The church had a midnight service. Then on New Years morning everyone in town prepares to climb the hill above Kabala. Wara Wara Mountain. It was incredible. The town is buzzing with visitors from other parts of the country and abroad. Thousands of people climbed the hill. Probably 5-10 thousand people. Everyone got changed at the top into their nice clothes and then people milled about for hours until the sun began to set. Unfortunately the artists Dry Eye Crew were late coming up the hill and did not perform while I was there. So as it was getting dark we returned through the forest with the dust rising up through the trees as hundreds of kids climbed, walked, ran, stumbled, fell, and rolled down the mountain. A very memorable new years day.
Now I am thinking of all the things I would love to get done before I leave. Some for the school, some for my research.
Nevertheless it is good just to be back in this community.