Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Wednesday, 30th of October

We all woke early and gathered our belongings. It felt strange to be packing up and seemed only a day or so ago that we arrived and settled into the Comfort Zone. 

By the time we had piled our suitcases on the ground floor, Lamin was waiting in the minibus to take us on the final journey of our trip. We made our way through the bustling streets of Freetown and waved a final goodbye to the local people who had greeted us with smiles and cheer every day since we arrived. We had arranged to have breakfast at the Family Kingdom before heading to the airport and what a treat it was! We were warmly greeted by the staff serving eggs, sausages, waffles, pancakes, fresh fruit, croissants and much more. We filled our plates and savoured our last meal together. Before long it was time to make our way to the airport. 

After a quick speedboat ride across the water and a smooth check-in, we were sat in the departures lounge of Lungi airport waiting to board our flight home. I could finally relax knowing that everything had gone according to plan.

Organising this trip has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I have struggled to put into words how much it has meant to me to be involved in this project and whilst reading various travel blogs about Sierra Leone I came across this statement which sums up my thoughts entirely;

“Freetown is a magical, exciting, colourful city full of wonderful, friendly people. It is also a poverty-stricken, overpopulated, under-resourced city where you’re never far from sadness, disease and crime. Don't go to Freetown if you don't want to face corruption, inequality and the leftover horrors of war. On the other hand, don't let that be a reason to deny yourself the incredible experience of visiting this amazing place and meeting such wonderful people.

You'll find multi-coloured buildings, fantastic music, great football, warm handshakes, big smiles, honesty and friendship, street-politics, stray dogs, beggars, amputees, congestion, pollution, poverty and a vibrancy that can only be born from the humour and strength of people who have known horror and are still struggling to survive”

I have been lucky enough to visit twice during 2013 and have fallen in love with the place. I would urge everyone from the developed world to go to Freetown and be prepared for it to change your life forever, as it has mine.

Amy Hugill