Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Travels in Kenema
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
We departed our very comfortable hotel at 8 AM, drove by the mission home and picked up a bundle to take with us to Bo, plus some plastic bags to cover our luggage, and drove to Grafton where the Carley’s live. We needed the bags to cover our luggage because of the rain—it will be in the back of Elder Carley’s truck. Carley’s reside across the small drive from Sahr Doe (I finally have the spelling right). Sahr owns the entire complex with guarded gate, which is right across the street from the Church. In the compound they also house several young, full-time missionaries. Sahr now occupies two of the houses because of his accident—he has made one of them wheelchair accessible. He has been getting physical therapy and is showing some small signs of improvement. It will probably get a little better when the new equipment arrives that Elder Carley is having his daughter bring over with her next week. He was being taken care of when we arrived so we didn’t say hello, but we will probably be able to visit him when we return. He had so many visitors that seemed to camp at his house that they had to put up a sign so he could rest—no more visitors! He is a wealthy man, but I’m sure he’d give it all up if he could walk again.
Sahr Doe complex; gate ahead.
Front of Carley’s rental house; missionaries in ones near the gate. Sahr across from Carley’s.
It has been raining each day that we’ve been here, but today it rained harder and more steadily. It only let up a little bit when we arrived in Kenema. The roads were worse than ever, or maybe we’ve forgotten—not the highway, but the roads in town. The best thing about the drive was that I slept a lot of the way. Today I had woken at 5 AM, so this is a slight improvement on my jetlag problem.
We found the Capitol Hotel, this time deciding to spend a little bit more money for our stay so we could have hot water and Internet and TV. I was so tired of their cold water showers, and it isn’t all that hot right now with the pounding rain. The pool is being cleaned so I doubt if it will be functional while we are here.
Amarachi with youngest boy Jonathan, Jr.
We were eating a late lunch/early dinner when Jonathan and Amarachi and their kids showed up! It was quite the happy reunion. Amarachi said that it has been about 4 years! They brought their 2 boys, their adopted daughter, and a niece with them. At any given time they have 10-20 people camping at their house. It must be quite a challenge. We heard some interesting plans—they see so much need here that they want to start their own NGO to teach women and girls—morals for the girls and other skills for the moms. There is a high pregnancy rate here in this country. There are also a lot of abortions. Since the Mission President and his wife know about NGO’s and how to start them (Reach the Children), they have been able to advise them with what might help them to become successful.
We’ve had an enjoyable time getting to know E/S Carley. They are doing great, even though they know how difficult it is to be successful here (sustainable water projects). They are learning good approaches to the work that will help them greatly in their area water projects. Elder Carley, at the age of 65, walked the Appalachian Trail, which took a little over 6 months-- it is over 2,000 miles. His wife would mail him food to take with him along the way. She said he came back a changed man, for the better. He said he always loved his wife and children, but learned how to appreciate them, which he felt was entirely different. Interesting. This is a second marriage for him; his first wife died in her 30’s.
Wednesday: I managed to stay asleep till 7 AM but woke up to more rain. Last night after a change between city power and generator here at the hotel, we couldn’t get our air conditioner back on again—it was late by this time. We asked for the technician to come but he couldn’t get it to work. The owner came and he couldn’t either, so he changed our room, and this after we had unpacked everything. Just as the change was nearly completed, he got it working, but at this point we didn’t want to do it all over again. This is actually his best room--It actually has a shower door, night stands, and a few other amenities, even though the rooms are considered to be the same. The one without the shower door had instead a sloped, roughly tiled floor bottom with a drain, but the drain was not at the low spot, leaving a puddle in the bottom—this is Africa, after all…
I had forgotten that unless the city power is on, they turn off their generator by 8 AM. I need to remember this in case I want to blow dry my hair or charge up my computer or phone. We had the breakfast that comes with the room and it was okay.
Jonathan picked us up just after 9 AM and we drove in the rain to the police station. They want a well, they need a well, but how to fund it might be a problem. If they ask for the neighboring community for help, even though they would use it too, they might balk because policemen do charge them for violations and they are not too popular. If they fund it themselves, the people will be wary of how they plan to do that, by giving more citations. Either way, this would be an area project, so Elder Carley will have to decide if he wants do it or not.
Afterwards we drove to the council office and met with a group of District ministers and other NGO’s. Elder & Sister Carley were skeptical since they had gone to one of these in Freetown and the district spent the whole time trying to convince the NGO’s to pay for the district’s trip to China! Elder Carley had complained and left the meeting! We were therefore pleasantly surprised that this meeting was very helpful. The district is trying to map all the water projects in Kenema and trying to support the NGO’s in what they are doing; however, they don’t have money like other districts do in other countries, and they admittedly said that if we wanted their help we’d have to drag them along. Other countries like Ghana give their districts money, but there isn’t much here yet. Even today Water Aid sponsored the meeting by providing water, soda and some cookies to eat. They district supports the WASH program, but it will be a long while before they can become as useful as they ought to be. Without money to operate, they won’t be doing much unless we all pay for them to do their jobs.
Kenema District meeting with WASH group and NGO’s.
We drove in the rain again to Jonathan’s church building, the one that they are meeting in now because he had to stop and see his workers. I think they have three branches here in Kenema but Jonathan actually built this building. They are always repairing it because the African way of building is not very good, or perhaps it is the materials that they have to work with. Then we drove to his home where Amarachi fixed us this lovely chicken and rice meal—it was so filling that for dinner we just made sandwiches from something Carley’s had brought from Freetown. It was perfect.
Sister Carley with my half-dead umbrella standing in front of Jonathan’s Branch building, the one he built.
While sitting just outside our rooms, we ate and visited and actually felt cool because of the wind and rain. It was a good day, but it is raining too hard in the afternoons to get around to the more difficult places.
Well, off to do some more wash, shower and then bed. Sometimes I wonder how we’ll get it all done in the short time that we are here.
Goodbye for now from the Capitol Hotel in Kenema.