Cleaning DayHello 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 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.