Sierra Leone, Day 6.
In Freetown there is a place called Kissey which is where the cargo ferry terminal is. It is a slum and a place where the most desperate cases find themselves. Within this area behind some large gates is the rubbish tip. I have never seen a place so apparently God forsaken: smouldering heaps of rubbish, stagnant pools of contaminated water, lots of pigs, stray dogs, a horrible stench, faeces and everything you might expect to find in the most inhospitable part of one of the poorest countries in the world, except it is home to a number of beautiful and lost children. They pick through the rubbish by day and sleep there by night.
One very large sack full of cans or plastic (nearly the weight of a child) brings them 3,000 Leone (40p). Amazingly the friendly Street Child social workers such as Jinny (see photo) regularly walk round and round the dump looking for these children, giving them love and care, practical help, registering them, counselling them and eventually placing them in a family and in education. It was great to see them in action.
The rubbish dump is always burning. It reminded me of the image of Golgotha in scripture. When we came across the children I couldn't really speak. I couldn't imagine living there for more than one hour. My gag reflex was on standby all the time and my eyes were full of tears. I've never seen anything as hellish as this.
But next to the tip is an amazing beacon of hope. There is a school run by Jane, a wonderful Sierra Leonian head teacher who is passionate about Jesus (she's even got the poster), loves the children in her care and injects joy into their lives. The contrast of the tip and the school was extraordinary. We visited her classes, sang songs and introduced ourselves and were introduced to at least 15 children who had been rescued from the dump who were now integrated into school, families and the we visited two families who had received business grants to support the children in their care. It's a system that works and I praise the Lord for those social workers walking around that dump every day. Wow. We asked the children what they wanted to be when they grow up and at least 2 said "The President". Bring it on! Today has been about seeing some very special individuals at work in the dirtiest and darkest of places, all fuelled by the same Spirit, the Spirit that defends the poor, the widows and the orphans.
Sierra Leone, Day 6.