HE The President, Buzz Lightyear and Danny DeVito... what more would you want out of Sierra Leone!?

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April 29th 2013
Published: April 29th 2013
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I wish I could pinpoint how Africa captures and fascinates me. Maybe it's because the pace of everyday life is much slower here so you have the time to notice the small things. I've found myself noticing everythingand at the risk of sounding Disney, Africa is beautiful and it inspires me so much. Sure, there are dark histories and current life-threatening circumstances but the people here seem to draw strength from that and they really want to advance and learn.

Sierra Leone is different to Kenya but I can't pinpoint that one either. To me this place is like some strange dream alternate reality but to the people who live here, this is their life. And now my life to a certain degree. The only difference is that I have a means of escaping it if I want to and I choose to be here and to live in this situation.

There are so many gaps here and I know I can help, just not sure which gap to fit myself into. I have been offered a couple of positions which would enable me to stay. The first was fundraising manager for an Agro-enterprise organisation... confused me a bit, I'm not going to lie! Second is Project Manager for a DfID funded project run by The Collective, which I got offered yesterday so I'm waiting for the job description on that one. Third position has been created for me within my current charity Street Child: In-country fundraising manager. So either way, it looks like I'm staying!

Sorry, once again, for the lack of writing recently but now I am back in Makeni and the pace of life has slowed slightly for a couple of days. I have been in Freetown for the past 4 weeks (I was only meant to be there for 6 days!) working with sponsors and the many supporters of the marathon. It's been really great to build momentum around the marathon and see the changes in people and attitudes. It's a really positive event and has a great message for the whole country. Everyone is behind it, which makes our jobs easier as that means that they are behind us as well.

Once again, there have been no days off since the last blog but we are planning on for Independence day tomorrow. All of the Makeni crew are travelling to Tokeh for an Independence Day party on the white sands beach. I managed to score free accommodation for all 14 of us so it should be lots of fun. We haven't all been together for weeks as everyone has been travelling around the country so much 😊

It was Mark's birthday on Tuesday so Tracey and I left Freetown at the crack of dawn to surprise him in Makeni 😊 we took him for breakfast: a 'Full English' comprising of chicken sausages (?don't ask?) and a mountain of eggs... it was fun! 😊 That night, we had a bunch of people over for drinkage and expertly made enchilada-type-thingies, which was great. We were finally able to relax and it was great to see Mark so happy. For once, the guys outnumbered the girls, which was really odd but nice for Mark! And we stayed up til 4am singing and dancing to classic rock tunes and being entertained by the remaining lads trying to out-do each other whilst half naked eating vodka soaked pineapple!! Happy Birthday Marky Mark! :D

I stayed back in Makeni for 2 days and one of those days was spent in Magbente hospital all day watching over a friend. Our friend from London was plagued by an unknown illness and rushed in in the middle of the night. I thought it was extreme dehydration after an extremely impressive gastro-projectile-pyrotechnics display as a result of chowing down on a dodgy Lobster on Sunday!

The last time he was in hospital in Sierra Leone, he was on his own, drugged up to eyeballs so he was intentionally knocked out. They pumped him full of so many drugs to heighten the bill that his organs started shutting down and he had to be rescued! So we thought it was a good move to sit in with him while he slept 😊

Turns out I was wrong about the diagnosis! He has now returned to the UK for an operation and will be back out in a couple of weeks!! Get well soon flower!!

We had the Freetown Flash Marathon Promo Party (what a mouthful!) a couple of weeks ago on the roof of the Flash building in the capital. Its a gorgeous white building on a hill with the rooftop view of the whole of Freetown and the sea, so not bad at all! Loads of people came (always my biggest fear that they wouldn't!) and it was a great success. Photos are on Facebook.

We had performance from the amazing and very cute Lillie Balanta, who are very little cultural performers from Balanta Performing Arts Academy in Freetown. They were awesome 😊 they all knew my name in the first few minutes and I had no hope of remembering theirs. They tried to teach me some moves which went down very well and kept them all very amused and kept me looking silly 😊

A couple of hours before the party, we were donated a couple of pretty cool 2012 Olympics items to auction off so we decided to add another hot commodity to the listings..... us! We auctioned off the opportunity to have dinner with the marathon team and we sold for $702 dollars!!! Not bad eh?! All in all, we raised $1402 dollars for Street Child from the auction.

I have been working with Joe on the modifications to our beloved Clubhouse in Makeni. His company (Protec) are giving The Clubhouse a makeover so starting next week, we'll have a nice shiny new hangout. They are also knocking through a wall into an office to make room for the newly donated pool table currently in a container en route from the UK!

We've had a pretty eventful past week. We had Martha come out and join our team last Thursday and since then, we have met His Excellency The President twice!! The first time, our friend Danny DeVito took us along to the final of a national squash tournament where HE was playing. He won, of course (you wouldn't want ot be the one to make him lose!) After that first meeting, we had a text message from his First Aid inviting us to his place on Monday... so of course, we went! (I think it was the bag of marathon-branded goodies we gave him on the Saturday that did it!) His house is A-MAZE-BALLS!!!He invited us to play squash and have lessons in his own court and with his coach so I think I'll go back next week when I'm in Freetown by myself with nothing but work in the evenings 😊

Lewis and a new volunteer Neo have arrived this week as well. There will be in excess of 50 volunteers flying out in the next 4 weeks - THREE OF WHICH ARE MINE!!! I'm soooooooo excited for Anna, Nic and Jamie to come out and join us :-D words literally cannot describe how excited I am to see my girls!!! It's going to be so much fun 😊

Happy Birthday to Dan. I tried calling you a few times but I'm guessing you were busy. It was great to see you and the boys on the webcam last week. Buzz Lightyear says hi 😊 Sending everyone love and hugs from afar!

Ok, I will stop writing now and leave you with a proposition.....

Christmas in Sierra Leone..?!



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