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.