Sierra Leone — A Warm Welcoming Hug

Vicki MiddletonCommunities, Culture

Beach

Having not been to Sierra Leone since December 2015, I was filled with excitement to return. We touched down at Lungi International Airport on March 15th after leaving a snowstorm in the U.S. the day before. A welcoming hug of heat met us on the tarmac!Sunset

The airport is across the harbor from Freetown so there are options for crossing – water taxi, ferry, or a 2-3 hour drive overland. We chose the water taxi and while waiting watched this beautiful sunset.

The purpose of our trip was to review HealeyIRF healthcare programs and also our programs caring for Ebola orphans.  These programs are operating well and we saw great improvements. Program details will be covered in future blogs. But for now, I wanted to share some ‘non-work’ related experiences.

First, the beaches…. beautiful… stunning…inspiring,  and I have only seen two of them…there are so many more!  I visited River #2 during my last trip and it was truly breathtaking. Sometimes you worry that you have built up an experience so much that upon return you will be disappointed.  Not so with River #2 — I think I loved it even more this time. What’s not to like — the beach, the mountains, and the boat going back and forth across the outlet. My first swim confirmed that yes there is a very strong current, and you do need to take the boat!

A trip to the market

This trip I tried my hand at bartering at the market. The market is located in the center of the city where masks, carvings, handmade dresses, handbags, and jewelry can be purchased. The fabric of the clothing is bright and very colorful – so you will not find a little black dress here. But what you will find is a lot of people who want to make a really nice deal with you.  Was I good at bartering? Not really, so I will need to improve my skills for my next trip.

Music and dancing

Good music and spending time with our Sierra Leonean colleagues one evening allowColleaguesed us to catch up on each other’s lives. After spending hours in the vehicles visiting our clinics, dancing was also a welcome part of the evening.

As a country Sierra Leone faces challenges and again these are things that will be discussed in future blogs. But for now, I just want to remember the warm welcoming hug that is Sierra Leone.

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