Tuesday, August 23, 2016

On The Road in Sierra Leone

It seems all of our pictures this week were taken from the truck.  So here we go.

First of all "okadas".  These are small motor bikes that are used for taxis.  They are the fastest transportation to get around town and they are the most dangerous.  In Bo, for every car or truck there are 10-20 okadas on the road.  This past month they began enforcing the helmet laws in the country.  Okada drivers must wear a helmet and now they must provide one for their passenger as well.  If they are caught without a helmet or without one for their passenger, they are given a heavy fine and their motorbike is impounded until they have paid the fine.  They also have rules about having too many passengers.

Here is an okada diligently doing his best to meet the requirements of the law.  Notice how the passenger does have his helmet, but had trouble figuring out how to make it work with the load on his head.

Here is another passenger. Women do not like to wear the helmets because they mess up their hairdos.  And some of the men just won't wear them.  Another valid question is "What qualifies as a helmet?  It is very common to see football helmets, baseball batters helmets, construction hard hats, as well as bicycle helmets etc.

Then there is the occasional interesting load.  You have to look closely at this picture to see what is going on.  The passenger is holder two pieces of "rebar" behind his back.  It is trailing behind the okada and swinging back and forth across the road.  We watched some people walking along the side of the road who had to jump over it to keep from getting hit.  This is about 1/2 inch rebar which is steel used to reinforce concrete structures.  Very heavy and dangerous.  Another okada almost ran over the rebar which could have created an interesting accident.  We hope he got to his destination safely.

The Roads of Kenema

These are the famous beautiful paved roads of Kenema.  It is the middle of the "rainy" season so most days have some rain and some days have a lot of rain.  The road you are seeing in these pictures is the main road in the city of Kenema.  It was totally paved at one time.  Notice the large piles of rocks dumped in the middle of the road.  These piles of rocks are there to be broken up and used to fill the potholes.  They have been there for about a month.  They must be waiting for the rains to stop.  In the mean time cars and trucks go very slowly as they try to maneuver around the rock piles and the potholes that can be very deep.  It takes about 30 minutes to go 5 miles through town.

The All Africa Day Of Service

This was an event the church held throughout Africa.  Here in Bo, we worked with two branches that cleaned up along the main highway going through town.  By cleaning up, we mainly mean wacking down the jungle in the ditches so the rain water can run well.

Here, Elder and Sister Sherwood are with President Sheriff, the branch president who orchestrated this project.

Here you get an idea of how high the vegetation can grow in these road

Here are two companions enjoying the work and play together.  Two hard working Elders.  Elder Kay and Elder Ayabowei.

Here we can see about half the workers along the highway.

Notice the women on the left, working alongside the men.  Even doing hard, dirty work outdoors, they still wear dresses.

Saturday, August 6, 2016


Cleaning Day

Hello again from Sierra Leone,  Last Saturday was the last Saturday of the month.  In Bo that is a day when everyone stays at home or their shop and cleans until 10:00 am.  This is not just a custom it is a city regulation!  We have been out on the streets of Bo during these hours and it is EERIEE!  There are no cars, no okadas(motor bikes), no people out walking.  Everyone you see as you go by is sweeping their yard, cleaning the street gutters, or busy doing yard work.  We have never been stopped when we were driving, however people give you very odd, stern looks.  We made sure there was a very good reason when we drove(like checking on a sick missionary).  We are told they do stop you, and you will be fined 250,000 Leones.  That is about $40 US.  That is a very stiff fine for these people.  Bo is the only city in Sierra Leone that does this.  We have heard from some that Nigeria does this also.  

So we decided this month to join in and do a service project that would be beneficial to our neighborhood.  This is the rainy season and most days it rains off and on.  Sometimes a drizzle, sometimes a downpour.

Right outside our gate our street has a dip in it.  Not a deep pothole, just a dip that is the width of the street and 20 feet long.  It is always full of water.  Those walking by have to maneuver around it.  We decided we were going to fill it in with dirt from the berm on the side of the road.  This was a bit ambitious.

We spent about 15 minutes putting dirt from the berm into the puddle.  About that time a neighbor boy came up and said, "No, No, No.  You need to drain the water.  He took the shovel away from Sister Sherwood and began digging a trench, from the puddle to the ditch at the side of the road.  Elder Sherwood joined in with his idea.  After a few minutes other neighbors started coming with more suggestions.  A better pick/hoe was brought and the puddle was beginning to drain.

Another neighbor came by and felt like we were way to slow in our digging.  He took the shovel and started in on it.  After 10 minutes he said "What you really need is concrete blocks.  Bring your truck to my place."  He lived about 2 blocks away in a compound bigger than ours.  His business was making dredging equipment used to mine for diamonds in the river.  The home was under construction.

On the 2nd story there we a lot of broken concrete blocks.  I would have called it rubble.  These look much like what we call concrete blocks at home, but are much sandier and don't have much cement in them, so they are very fragile.  He began tossing them down to the landing and then out the window.  We began placing them in the truck.  By now we had about 8 neighbors all helping to load the truck.  We took 3 truckloads to our street and spread them out in our puddle.  He also had a small sledge hammer he brought.  Some of us would beat on the bigger blocks to make them smaller.  Here are some pictures and videos we took of the work.

Here you see our puddle.  Notice the ditch that is draining the puddle to the right.  It now is about half the size it was before it started draining.  We knew that over time it would just fill up again.

Here you see us unloading one of the truck loads.  Notice how you have to keep your tools in good repair.  Sister Sherwood added a nail to keep the hoes head on the handle.

Here you can see Sister Sherwood breaking up the blocks.  Notice how she didn't get much done before a man came and took the hammer.  We have found that these good people do not like to let women and older men work. If we are carrying something they insist on taking it from us.  

Elder Sherwood is moving the blocks.  Finishing up the project. Sister Sherwood finally gave up trying to help, and went and got water and cookies for everyone.  It turned into a nice neighborhood party.