Sierra Leone, Day 2
We visited Bumbuna, a beautiful rural village at the end of an hour of bumpy mud track and through a very deep river in the Land Cruiser. It is amazing to travel into the middle of nowhere to discover a street child school serving the community. We dropped in on a street child consultation with adolescent girls who are dropping out of education and a consultation with boys who were not in education. Street Child are doing a nationwide consultation to find out what the main pressures are facing girls not having access to education. Street child was finding a lot of girls coming to the city from the rural areas to work in the sex trade.
We visited a number of rural schools and spoke with the teachers. At the first school we were showed around by a Baptist elder who has just qualified as a teacher thanks to Street Child. We prayed together, swapped stories and will continue to pray for his needs, particularly as he has a class of 72 four year olds! We saw his classroom. Unimaginable. 72 "Zachary's" in a small room with no toys or books. There is so much more to be done. I saw on the register that 10 children were missing from class today. He said that is because they are out in the fields trying to pay for their school fees (20,000 Leone per year which is £2.50). This is basic unsexy global injustice. It doesn't grab headlines but it's just wrong. I bought a Coke for that price on the journey home.
At the second school we heard of how the school has transformed the lives of so many children: "We praise the Lord for the grace of God as he sent Street Child" said the deputy head. It was encouraging to see how close the school and local church are intertwined, many teachers coming from the local church and most street child staff workers from the church. The local church is engaged in social transformation and it was great to be shown around by Mary, a Christian who is working hard to become "youth of the year" in her church. She is fundraising for the building of new houses in their community - something that is greatly needed. Everything here is extremely poor, basic, unhygienic, and functioning against all the odds. On the way home I asked Kelfa the CEO in Sierra Leone how Ebola had affected his faith. "It's only made it stronger he said: we've had to realise again that God is all that we have and the grace of Jesus Christ to get us through". Wow. These are an amazing people.