The Road to Kenema

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On the move, Julia reflects on the journey, actual and her personal journey so far…

As I’m writing this I am literally on the road to Kenema, we’ve just left Makeni in the second car (we had to wait around for our African outfits to be finished) and Eleanor and myself are currently in the back of our car wearing our African headscarves. We’ve been on the road just over two hours and we’ve only just arrived on tarmac. Until now it’s been a bumpy, dusty, long stretching road. And bumpy is an understatement- we’ve been thrown all over the road.
In the UK we complain when a pot hole is a few centimetres deep, here we are talking at least 30cms and taking over most of the width of the road. This is made more difficult by the fact that last night it has clearly been raining in some places where the road is and so now the potholes are filled with water making it almost impossible to judge how deep they are before you drive through one- every time we did I prayed we’d make it out again.

But this blog isn’t about the literal journey from Makeni to Kenema. As we leave Makeni we can look back at the last 10 days as a positive experience we will never forget even though it’s been challenging at times. We’ve stayed with a community for three days, washing from a bucket and sleeping three of us in a double bed with a whole range of insects also inhabiting the room (including a couple of crickets), we’ve meet a range of people including the catholic youth organisation and we’ve learnt more about this country and the work CAFOD does to support the people living here.
As well as leaving Makeni, today also means we are halfway through our trip so it is an appropriate time to reflect on our journey so far but to look forward to the second half. For the first time today since I left Heathrow I heard the voice of my family. It was quite an emotional moment as I have been unable to contact them since I arrived. While I’m enjoying our adventure here in Sierra Leone and want it to last as long as possible I’m also looking forward to returning to the UK to see my family and starting to share what I’ve experienced.

However for now we have much more to experience, our arrival in Kenema will signal the start of us experiencing CAFOD’s Lent campaign for ourselves. This year Sierra Leone is the country of choice and quite a few of the projects the campaign is focused on is based in Kenema. I’m really looking forward to seeing quite a few of these projects particularly in order to see how the work CAFOD does here in Sierra Leone really impacts those it supports. We’ve learnt a lot so far and this trip has already really opened my eyes in a way I probably will never be able to explain. A picture says a thousand words but experiencing something for yourself is a completely different matter. I can’t wait to arrive in Kenema partly because it’s a long journey but mostly because I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for us while we are there. I know whatever it is its going to impact me for the rest of my life.

The area Julia is going to is our Lent focus for this year.
See more at http://www.cafod.org.uk/Give/Donate-to-CAFOD/Lent-2014

And if you think you have what it takes to follow Julia “Into the Gap” see http://www.cafod.org.uk/Education/CAFOD-Gap-year

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