Good News and Bad News 

First the bad news:

Many of you will have seen the distressing reports from Sierra Leone this week regarding the recent heavy rains in Freetown and the devastating mud slide that has killed at least 400 people, and possibly as many as 600 more.

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I have been in regular contact with Abs since Monday, and I am relieved to report that he and his family are safe and well. I had a long conversation with him on Tuesday, asking how we might help in the current terrible circumstances. He was just leaving the DST Office to visit the Freetown Cheshire Home (FCH) and he said that he would email me on his return. He sent me the following email:

 
"If people wish to help, they can donate through DST in the UK, which will be channelled through to DST here in Freetown. We will coordinate with the RED CROSS who are our neighbours and I am also a member (since 2016). I will ensure I hand over the money and say who has donated it. (EBC) Also, we could yet hear more about how this disaster has affected persons with disabilities. The challenge is that they will probably not be counted, as they were excluded for Ebola Reports, and more recently in the national census, when most disabled people, including myself, were left out.
Thinking about it further, and given the “hostile environment” in Sierra Leone, keeping a reserve fund for unexpected emergencies is a good idea."

Easthampstead Baptist Church will be making a donation, but if you feel that you are able to help then you can transfer money from your bank account to the DST bank account:

Name: The Dorothy Springer Trust
Sort Code: 401310
Acc.Num: 71897586
 
Please make sure that it is clearly marked, “DST Flood Appeal”


Now for the good news.
Abs is very clear about the next part of the vision for the Freetown Cheshire Home. He has a five-year plan to return the Cheshire Home to the high standard which he remembers it having when he was educated there.
The critical piece of the plan involves having a high calibre leader on site, fulfilling the role of Headteacher/General Manager – in essence someone who is on site and overseeing the Home and implementing the plan. Abs understands that the demands on his own time are such that he can only take the home so far and that without this on-site leader, the plan will fail and the children will never have the kind of education and opportunity that he had there.
 
In April this year, a group of 15 people made a visit to Sierra Leone (See Blog: “Sierra Leone Visit 2017”). One of those people was a lady called Laura Kircough who was a teacher at Birch Hill Primary School. I write “was a teacher….” because Laura has decided that she will fulfil the role of Head Teacher/General Manager at the Freetown Cheshire Home. In fact, she is flying out to Freetown on Monday (21st) to take up her new role.

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All of us who are connected with the FCH are so excited by this news! It will undoubtedly make a huge difference to the children who attend the school at FCH, and Laura will provide Abs with much needed support. In addition to her obvious gifts as a teacher and administrator, Laura is also a very talented photographer and blogger. You can follow Laura’s progress in Sierra Leone by clicking on this link to her blog:

https://l.messenger.com/l.phpu=https%3A%2F%2Fthelongwayround.org%2F&h=ATOlz
GwQ77vGzbQtvUJPXbTGk4XJc02T0874WMum7euc3stYrWWe1AtrzeQMSm3YyvbUSxjnr
ZyrxKsRK1VmABpub6JD8_uWmCWOIFweDUqNcX9kIfSmGHKTxXxaKlbItHKO8W0_Ko-28

 

Also leaving the UK on Monday, will be a large shipment of various goods bound for Freetown. Following Laura's decision to go and work in Sierra Leone, many of her friends, family and colleagues have donated an assortment of goods for use in her new role. These include tables, chairs, cabinets, clothes, toys, computers, books and pens, In fact, when the large van left the EBC premises last Friday afternoon, it was packed with items that will help in the mission to improve the lives of young disabelled children in Sierra Leone. Thanks you to everyone who donated.
Rob Lea, 17/08/2017