Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Tuesday 26th October

Kyrie, it has been a momentous trip!  Today, technically, we check out of Sierra Leone.  That’s assuming our 23.45 flight escapes on time.  We live in hope…

After 11 days our Sierra Leonean adventure is drawing to a close.  Not that we are winding down, far from it!  Today sees a frantic, yet thorough, clean of out IMATT swamp HQ, packing of bags, singing our goodbyes for the good people of the J.T. Reffell school, swinging by the Ballanta Academy to collect African drums and wave au revoir, a final browse of the markets and finally to the ferry, armbands at the ready.

It has been a brilliant trip.  So much has been done in such a short time that it feels like we have been here for weeks.  Every person has brought something individual and valuable to the group.  The students have done themselves and the school proud in everything they have done.  Well, mostly everything!  What has been so impressive about Sophie, Gemma, Johanna, Iona, Rosie, Liam, Anna, Alice, Polly, George and Emma has been their willingness to get stuck in and get on with everyone they have encountered.  Despite an occasionally exhausting climate and some difficult experiences, they have put the overall harmony of the group before personal needs.  It has been a humbling but rewarding time for all of us.  As staff members it has been a privilege to interact with students so open minded, aware and, dare I say it, mature.

Our experiences in Freetown have been challenging in the most positive sense of the word.  Our eyes have been opened truly to the African experience.  The beautiful has been juxtaposed with the shocking: all combining to fire our passion, issue forth our generosity and question our cultural assumptions.  For some it has been akin to a religious epiphany - sanctus indeed.  Unquestionably, it will prove to be one of the defining experiences of our lives to date.  Something profound has been accessed here and such seismic events are vital.  We return more worldly certainly and wiser hopefully.

Wednesday morning sees us hit British soil covered with frost with sun in our hearts.  We aim to bring some of the positivity and energy of Freetown back to Wells, where fundraising will recommence in earnest.  It is an exciting and daunting baton change between Ms. Arrowsmith and I.  I can only hope to rise to the extremely high bar she has set.  While the chilly Heathrow air will be an inevitable shock to the 17 people sauntering around in bright African trousers, the comforts of home will be appreciated greatly.
First stop: McDonalds/Burger King/KFC [delete as appropriate]
Next stop: home.

See you there.
Mr. Meally M.A. [African Dance]