Saturday, October 26, 2013

Leaving Sierra Leone

by Heather Quinn

We had a good day off yesterday. We spent the day in Freetown doing a few errands such as meeting with the solar panel contractor, and going to a local pharmacy. There was a nice pool at the hotel that we took advantage of. We took a walk along the beach and swam for an hour or so in the ocean. The water was warm, the sun was setting, and the views were beautiful.

The team at the beach in Freetown, SL

There were multiple soccer teams practicing and others selling things. At one point we look up from swimming and see Phebian amidst a newly formed soccer game. They were playing around her. We move down the beach a little to get out of their way. Phebian told us that she uses to come to the beach as a family outing. We had a great time talking and just having fun! 

We get cleaned up and head for dinner. As we were talking, Phebian tells us a story of a young girl, 15 years old now, who her parents - out of complete desperation to send her to school - agreed to give her to an older man in marriage in order for him to pay the school fees. She was 12 at the time and the parents told the man to not lay hands on her until she's 18. She was sent away to live with him. Unfortunately, she got pregnant at age 13 and had to stop going to school. This girl now lives with Phebian's  family on her compound and Phebian has agreed to assist her with the school fees. She got her back in school after begging the principle - an old school friend - to allow her back in even though she was behind. Without advocacy, this girl would never had a chance. Phebian says this sad situation is common because of the poverty and lack of ability to pay for school fees. We got to meet this young girl while visiting Phebian's family. She was a sweet girl with a precious child. 

As I write this, we are sitting here now at Lungi airport waiting for the flight to Brussels then to Newark then to Buffalo. Apparently we will gain 6 hours in time. We hope to sleep on the flight. We got off at nine today after a good breakfast with birthday cake to celebrate Vicki's birthday. The water ferry left at 11 and we wanted to plan enough time to travel through the congested Freetown city. We got there by 10 and waited patiently to leave. The views were amazing. Blue sky, shining, hit sun, and green rolling mountains. We observed the smog over the Freetown city and commented on the garbage everywhere. The sanitation has been a huge problem that we have noticed. There has been a lack of adequate bathrooms and water in both the city and villages. We laugh as we remembered our 'bush breaks' as we called them instead of 'pit stops.' That's probably TMI but it's true. The ferry began the 45 minute journey across the bay from Freetown to Lungi. During this trip a Muslim then Christian preacher take a turn on the mic yelling their views to the passengers. Thankfully, they stopped mid way and some young men started selling their Sierra Leonian music videos while giving previews on a small TV. There were people selling their goods everywhere. We made it to the airport with plenty of time and stopped for lunch. 

After, we say our goodbyes and hugs all around. We agreed that our trip was productive and successful in Jesus' name. We realize that without God, this mission would not go on or succeed. Phebian gives a hug to all and thanks everyone for the prayers. I've given her plenty of hugs, kisses and squeezes while being here.  We all have. We are grateful to be coming home but can't wait to come back to Sierra Leone.

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