Julia has sent a few blogs at once as Internet access is, not surprisingly, unreliable in Sierra Leone. So we’re still catching up on her journey…
So quickly we have come to nearly two weeks in Sierra Leone which means only two weeks left. How time flies?! Since getting back from the community I’ve had a shower (in the community we had to wash with water in a bucket filled from a pond) and I’ve never felt so clean! I was one of the lucky ones as two of our group are in a different building and the water was off for the first two hours after we returned.
On Thursday (yesterday) we went to the University of Makeni Youni Campus- which is where the law faculty and IT faculty are. For me this was fascinating after studying Law with Politics at University. We were able to have a tour of the campus and look at the law library. I may have become slightly geeky and disturbed all the students studying in the library by going through the books and being like “That’s the textbook I used”. Sierra Leone has the same LLB as the UK as it uses common law as its main source of law as case reporting has only been around for 10 years. The main difference between my textbooks at university and the library’s text books were that mine were all brand new and the latest edition (2010-2012) the editions in the library were 2007-2008. Knowing from my own degree how much the law has changed in the last 5 years means I can understand it must be very difficult to be able to keep up to date with current law cases especially when there is no internet access.
On our tour we were also able to meet one of the law professors, he was an American (from Boston) who explained to us all about the university and the difference how Caritas and CAFOD work together, he was also able to tell us about two projects CAFOD have provided in Sierra Leone that none of us knew about and it made me very proud to be visitors from CAFOD, one was about women and voting, the other about mental health. I had a good chat to him about the Law course and when he asked me where I studied he knew of Hull’s Law department. We found out a lot of information from him about the current state of Sierra Leone before he rushed off to class (he was late) on his way out he told one of his students “I’m allowed to be late, you’re not” in a very American law lecture way.
One of the interesting things about this campus is the fact that the president’s house is very close and he has decided while he is living in Freetown that the university may use the site for offices. This meant we were able to go see the house. I have never before been inside a President’s house so I was excited to go see it. However once inside it, something didn’t feel right, this grand house the president had built on government money had never once been lived in- the showers were brand new. And in reality the whole of the community of Rofenka could have lived inside of the house.
Seeing the difference between rich and poor in 24 hours left me feeling uncomfortable to say the least. But I remembered that was the reason why I’ve taken this year out to make a difference in the world. When I return to the UK I will have a great story to tell of the difference between the happy smiling children who lived in Rafenka and the cold empty house the President will one day return to after being President. Each person can make a difference in the world and it is up to us how we decide to make it.
If you think that you could make a difference by Stepping into the Gap, check out http://www.cafod.org.uk/Education/CAFOD-Gap-year for more information.