What's it really like? 

Heather and Ian Baker have been living and working in Sierra Leone for the past few years, and they have been a huge help and support to Abs Dumbuya.

Ian  Heather
Heather is the voluntary Coordinator/Administrator at The Freetown Cheshire Home. She recently put the following post on Facebook, and it goes someway to answering a question that I am often asked, "what's it really like working in Sierra Leone?"
"Tell God Tenki" - a common response to a lot of questions here in Sierra Leone , such as how you sleep , how di day, how di bodi. People generally here may have very little but their immediate response is to thank God for what they do have and that is a lesson we are endeavouring to learn on a daily basis.

We were very fortunate to have the loan of a car thanks to our generous friends Chris and Fiona for a few months and are now back to using our motorbike. Unfortunately it only worked for a day until Ian needed to fix it which he has been working so hard on and hopefully later today, with the correct parts, it will work 'By God and Power".

It has meant that for the last four working days we have had to travel by public transport to work in Freetown. This has meant waiting at the side of the road in the hot sun for a taxi , then squeezing four in the back and three in the front (the norm) regardless of the size of the car, quite often a micra! This part of the journey normally takes half an hour. We then queue for a pudapuda (minibus) these have had their normal seats removed and metal benches bolted in to accommodate more people and often getting on these makes fighting for a London tube look tame. We often try to get the front seats which cost slightly more but are a proper seat.

The other day there was just one seat remaining in the front so Ian suggested I take it but this particular driver was determined not to have a white woman in his front seat! So I too fought for the back. The driver was a bit of a boy racer and to avoid a traffic jam through some road works decided to take the unmade road along side the main road, at one point it meant having to have two wheels in the edge of the main road and two wheels on the unmade road to avoid parked cars, leaving us at a very precarious angle and lots of screaming travelling companions. We were later pulled over by the police as he apparently had outstanding tickets and all had to find alternative transport the rest of the way. So after a three hour journey we arrived at work! Not the best start to the day but I was reminded that for many people this is a daily occurrence.

We have had lots of positive things happen over the last few weeks too. We have received the papers for the land we have bought to build our home, Praise God! We have received funds from the High School in Carnforth through Rotary to buy the residents of the home solar lamps to study with. Funds from St Helens church in Derbyshire to help which ever need we feel is the greatest here, of which there are many. Heather's Mum and Dad continue to support us with the money they raise in giving speaking engagements and Ian's Mum and Dad are regularly collecting items for the children in the home, we are so so grateful for them all. We have a reliable generator that is working well at the moment and had a wonderful retreat day with our friends from the International Church on Saturday.

As can be seen in the photos Abdulai, who can't walk, has been sourced a wheelchair by Dr Abs and is so happy to be able to move around and be at the same level as everyone else . So we have so much to tell God Tenki for. God bless. Love from Ian and Heather"

So now you know the answer to the question. It is very frustrating and hard work, but oh so rewarding! Great work Heather and Ian, we salute you. 
Rob Lea, 08/02/2017