Monday, August 29, 2011

Kenema, Sierra Leone

Friday & Saturday, August 26-27, 2011  [pictures will need to be added when better Internet Service is available.]

Dear Family & Friends,

We finished a day early and drove towards Kenema, a five hour drive.  We handed out cars, dolls and blankets at the many little villages along the highway.  At one point I was a bit overwhelmed when Jim decided to give cars to a couple of boys near a village.  I knew that in a flash a ton of parents and kids would be descending upon us, grabbing and yelling for something for them or their kids.  I got a couple of pictures before I told him to get a move on.  We handed out to others, in smaller groups and that was fun.
We arrived at the Capitol Hotel and saw that they were continuing their huge construction project, adding a lot of new rooms.  We were surprised that they were revamping all the old rooms too.  We walked into the newly refurbished room and especially admired the new bathroom.  It was completely redone with a new floor, tiled walls, an enclosed shower, a place under a new sink to put stuff, and a new toilet.  It looked so nice.  All that money spent—still no hot water—not even in the new rooms…

The TVs still have no service after over a year.  When we turned the shower on the floor flooded—no difference there either.  The Internet that used to be available is no longer working.  They went to all this work to give you less service.  Our fridge also did not work so we had to have that replaced and it was hours later that we got one.  They used to have a large menu that they revamped to remove what they really never had available.  But when we ordered pizza they said the power was off and they couldn’t cook that so we had something else.  The power was off for awhile in the afternoon, so I was glad to see that today it is staying on most of the next day.  They apparently turn it off every afternoon till evening.  The pool, however, is still nice and refreshing.

After a nap and a warm ‘shower’ out of a bucket, I did feel better and could deal with my disappointment.  Today, Saturday, I’m feeling just fine.  The ‘ugly American’ in me has gone away.  Feeling clean and rested does that to me.
On our way into town we visited a few wells that were completed last year in Kenema—we did 50 here.  Jonathan reports that all the fixes that were needed have been completed.  Most of them were because of rock problems, stolen pumps, etc.  He says that after one year all the pumps are now working and those that have broken down have been fixed by the people.  Boy, does this make our hearts sing or what?  It is a different kettle of fish in Bo District though.

Today we dropped by Jonathan & Amarachi’s house and picked up their two little girls and took them swimming.  We had a nice visit and ate dinner and then Jim drove them all home again.  It is always lovely to be with them—a great couple, a lovely family.

Saturday: We visited several wells that had been repaired and some others in the Kenema area.  It seems our work is never quite done.  We found a few, not too many, that won’t pull water during the dry season, perhaps for a month.  No one that has done wells can seem to get to the water table in certain higher areas.  We also found a few that the cement work was terrible so we’re going to fix those.  There was only one well that will have to have a major repair job.  The contractor did not line the bottom with enough rock and it is pulling dirt into the water and it is not clean.  This pump will have to be pulled, rock added, and recapped.  We are sending Jonathan around again to all of them and having any fixed that are not the fault of the communities—cooperation in Kenema has been really good.
Our hot, sunny day gave way this afternoon to a rainstorm so loud that Jim and I had to shout to each other while sitting under the veranda surrounding the hotel.  They get an amazing amount of rain in a very short time.  My sweating body becomes cool and clammy, thinking only of a warm shower that I won’t get to have.  I hope to see my friend so he can bring me a bucket of the hot water later on but he is not here and I need one—time to be a brave little girl. 

We saw a tender moment in the rain.  A Black African albino lady was sitting in the rain on a curb, not moving.  We watched from an upper floor at the hotel as several people tried to get her to move to a place of shelter.  It was touching to us that so many people cared about her instead of just letting her sit on that curb completely soaked but not moving.

Love from Africa,

Mom & Dad, Jim & Karen, E/S Greding

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