On the one hand, things are pretty tough, coming back without Alhassan as guide and back up. It is hard having to face the day to day attrition of grinding poverty, the most powerful face of which is the daily category of meaningless and needless deaths. It is equally hard facing the wearing corruption, our latest contact with which is our tertiary students being frustrated by a total lack of transparency amongst the lecturers.
What sort of backwards thinking allows heads of departments to fail 85% of their students without either querying them or sacking them?
What sort of country, with such a terrible and fatal lack of qualified doctors, allows the college of medicine to kick out medical students without any warning, explanation or possibility of query?
I am even concerned that my mentioning this here may result in more direct targetting of EducAid students or of me. If you see me in the local press, having supposedly been discovered doing something outrageous, scandalous and illegal, do not be surprised. This is standard treatment of those who dare to question the ruthless elite here.
On the other hand, we are greatly encouraged by the goodwill and support from outside Sierra Leone. We have had wonderful support through the sponsorship of the cyclists. Children in Crisis are doing their best to get us support for much needed new buildings. There is the possibility, if we can get past the bureacracy etc. and get the primary school registered, of a new building from ‘FORUT’ [a funding organisation] for the Maronka school.
The current Maronka building.
Also, from within Sierra Leone, a female judge, new to the case, has after 18 months quashed the charges of 1st degree murder against the boy who inadvertently killed his cousin when having a fight. [For the original story please see the newsletter for September 2008 on this link: http://www.educaid.org.uk/EducAid_Sierra_Leone/News_files/Newsletter%20Sept%2008.]
This weekend, I was, at long last, allowed to take him into hiding in a far flung village where he can do some community service and continue his education. Nobody was arguing that he had done well in fighting and stabbing his cousin but the somewhat terrifying youth remand centre and a charge of 1st degree murder, rather than manslaughter, were most assuredly not justice either.