The Beautiful, Hard Working, Amazing People of Tikonko
Today marked my first full day in the Tikonko Chiefdom, Sierra Leone. I had my own personal tour guide, Joseph, who took me to a couple of different villages today. I have to say it was quite the experience riding on the back of his motorcycle as we navigated the well rutted dirt roads of Tikonko! Our first stop was in the village of Gbalehun. It was here that I met Mamae, Masuman and Aminata. RHCI Health Care Workers These three women are committed to helping improve health care for the pregnant women and their children. They are being trained by Rural Health Care Initiative to provide quality care for the women and children in their village.
(Aside: This is the preachy part)I believe that quite often we romanticize life in the rural villages of the developing world. When we do that it might help raise funds for the N.G.O.s that are working in those areas but the truth is that life is hard in these areas. We dare not give as charity or to justify our own exuberant lifestyles in the western world. Rather we must give because we have been blessed to have the resources to help others. We must not give out of guilt, as guilt is a poor motivator. We must not give out of pity for the people here are not to be pitied, they are a wonderful, welcoming, compassionate and caring people. Rather we must support these fine folks our of gratitude.
Bono said that an accident of longitude and latitude should not determine whether someone lives or dies. He is correct in that assessment. However, it is also true that an accident of longitude and latitude should not become a reason for an exuberant lifestyle at the expense of others. (Aside over)
Peter Dyfan, School Principal Then there's Peter. Peter works as the principle of the village elementary school. They currently have about 50 students attending the school. He is also responsible for some of the teacher training. When he's not working at the school Peter serves the local Catholic church as a Catechist. I had to ask what that was and he explained that because there is only priest who serves several villages (he happens to be a white guy so many of the kids called me "Father") on the 2 or 3 Sundays a month when the priest is absent Peter is the one with the responsibility to officiate the Mass. Peter's school is part of the World Vision Sierra Leone's Area Development Program for Tikonko. World Vision Hong Kong has been partnering with World Vision Sierra Leone since 2006 with a focus on Child Sponsorship, savings program and their WASH program.
Peter's school has a set of latrines for the students provided by World Vision that helps the whole community in learning and developing healthy sanitation practices. Something that we, western world dwellers, take for granted but is not as clear cut in a village with no running water, sewer system or electricity. Zainaba
Another program World Vision sponsors is a savings program. Each week members contribute a small amount of their earning to the program in order to develop a savings account that they can draw from when times get tough. The program is part of the investment in the economic future of the area and well being of the people. Zainaba is a member of the savings group in Gabalehun.
After leaving Gabalehun we rode to the village of Kassama. A beautiful village sitting on the edge of the Kiewa river. In this village I met another member of the savings program, Hawa. She makes her living by making palm oil. It is a labor intensive process that requires roasting/burning the beans from which the oil is derived and then pounding it to pulp that is then heated and strained to separate the oil so it can be sold in the market.
Hawa making palm oil One last person that I want to introduce you too is Kinnie. Kinnie lives in Kassama and makes his living on the river. About four times a day he makes a trip downstream to dig sand from the river bed. With a full boat he makes his way back upstream where the sand is deposited on the river bank. This sand is then sold for use in the construction industry, primarily in the cities of Freetown and Bo. Kinne
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