Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Day 9: we love the people

Today started off too early for the two of us as we had to make our rescheduled AYV News live TV appearance at 8am. We arrived 15mins early but as per African timings, we were then asked to wait a further half hour until we were invited into the studio. Both hosts were very welcoming and asked us questions about our activity and links here, and really enjoyed a Bach recital (and an impromptu rendition of Swing Low) from Chloe. 

We then made our way to JTR to meet the other for what would be our last performance- after telling the hosts that the concert would be tomorrow!- and had 
possibly the best concert so far. It started and finished with all the pre-prep students 

dancing on stage with us to Musa’s music and featured both our own programme and 
some songs that we’d taught them throughout the past week. After a very long and upsetting goodbye, we left JTR for the last time with lots of hugs and good wishes home. 

We then made our final way back to Ballanta for lunch and a small presentation of our instruments to them, some local gifts for us and then a group song and jamming session. Our day out ended at the Cultural Village; a compound, funded by the government, in which families are raised and trained in local traditions and dances. They performed local routines for us with rapid drumming and some astounding moves and, as seemed to be a trend today, invited us on stage for some more dancing.

Overall it was a very long and sweaty day but was very much enjoyed by all as the realisation of returning home suddenly hit us and we all embraced the culture for the last time.

Eli and Chloe
Watch Eli and Chloe on WakeUp Sierra Leone on You tube. 
Search for AYV Wakeup Sierra Laone, 31st October, 2017... they are after about 20 minutes! 

Today was a day full of emotions, starting with the pride of seeing 2 of our students eloquently speaking live on national television about their experiences at JTR, Ballanta and their opinion of Salone. We then had 2 very different goodbyes, from from JTR with a football match- won by us for the first time! - followed by a concert, of a mixture of performances from our students, then some of the senior school French class paid homage to me by reciting a poem that they had invented in French, featuring the ink of success! Students were presented with handmade tailored skirts and shirts and were swarmed by all the students, who each wanted a piece of them! The farewell at the Ballanta was more subdued and we were introduced to 5 of the first 10 recipients of our bursaries, making this new programme all the more real! I look forward to their progress and to their performance next year! The cultural village performance was something else and so joyful... it makes our leaving this country that little bit harder. After the second time I thought things would be easier, but this country and its people, they really grow on you and once you are hooked, I defy anybody not to be touched by this kindness and warmth. Tomorrow is a day of reflection, market and packing...

Over and out for now- JDA
PS: I shall update the photos on each side of the blog once back in the UK, so please do come back on Thursday night to read the final message for this year!