Pete blogs that the group have parted company and his group are on the way to Makeni while the others go to Kenema. Plantains seem to be big on Pete’s mind…
Wednesday 27th February, 4pm
Makeni Diocesan Pastoral Centre
This is definitely the hottest February day I have ever experienced. This morning we split up into two smaller groups and said goodbye to the coastal breeze of Freetown and travelled inland to our respective destinations of Kenema and Makeni, where we will spend the next two weeks. Carmel, Iona, Joe and myself along with our CAFOD officer, Denise have joined up with a charity called Caritas in the sweltering heat of Makeni.
We were driven here and introduced to our new hosts by Alex and Harriet of CAFOD. It’s a shame to leave them as they have been excellent hosts. On the way here they pulled over at a roadside market where we were instantly surrounded by excited fruit sellers. I was a little apprehensive at first due to the sheer volume of sellers around us but we followed our hosts lead and sampled some of the local produce, which was delicious. I went for a coconut, which turned out to have a surprisingly fizzy juice and then I bought some dried plantain for the road. I don’t know how many ways there are to have plantain but I’ve now had it spicy, sweet and dried and they’re all excellent. Those of you that know me can expect me to be forcing plantain into your lives once I return. Apparently it’s readily available in the UK but I’ve never seen it and I am widely regarded as one of the leading authorities on fruit and veg since the mysterious disappearance of the man from Del Monte.
I made a couple of observations about Sierra Leone on the journey that I’d like to share: the amount that Sierra Leoneans can carry on their heads (with no hands) is unbelievable, there is a huge visible difference between city and rural lifestyles and it is a surprisingly green country (one of the wettest in Africa I’m told).
Once we arrived in Makeni at midday, we were superbly welcomed by the entire workforce of about 25 people all assembling to meet us and have an introductory briefing. CAFOD doesn’t work directly in Sierra Leone but it does support and fund numerous projects and charities. Caritas, the international catholic charity is one of the key partners out here that CAFOD works through. Over the next few weeks we will be observing various Caritas project sites in and around Makeni and seeing the effects of CAFOD’s funding and partnerships. Continue checking in on this page as we will be reporting regularly on what we encounter.
For those of you worried about Naomi, fear not, we have not left her behind again. She has travelled with Hannah, Sarah, Lawrence and their CAFOD officer, Carol from Middlesbrough diocese. They too are joining up with a branch of Caritas and will be blogging their journey.
We are hoping that Naomi’s group might drop us a line and let us know how they are getting on. It might be a little warmer than Naomi’s beloved Blackhill.