Halfway through Hermione's time in Sierra Leone

11 April 2023 | Hermione Duncan
Bursary recipient, Hermione Duncan, shares her experiences and what she's been up to after 2 months working with JOA partner, Street Child, in Sierra Leone.

To already be halfway through my time here feels so crazy. In many ways my time in Sierra Leone has flown by and in others its feels like I’ve been living here a long time. This is what happens when you quickly get swept up into everything going on in both work and all the many things to do in your spare time as well! Freetown is always alive and an amazing place to live. After two months, you really settle into a place, getting to know your team and people you meet outside of work better, you get to learn what beaches you love to go to and the best place for mangoes. I would even say, you really start to fall in love with somewhere and the way of life.

Since I first started working with Street Child Sierra Leone the pace and speed of work has picked up. In terms of programmes work, it is always a balance of managing the implementation and monthly reporting, with project closure activities which includes reviewing funds and spending, working out what final implementation and impact can be made, and finally making sure that all data is collected and analysed to present in the final report. This has been an incredibly interesting process and to be able to see the ins-and-outs of the project cycle has been an amazing experience. It is interesting to witness the ways in which the implementation and monitoring of the projects is an ever-changing process due to changing circumstances within the country, whether that be fluctuations in exchange rates or due to the upcoming election in June.

In the last few weeks, I have also had the opportunity to travel upline to Port Loko and Kono to visit projects happening in local communities. These schools are where we have implemented Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) and/or school construction. I was also able to see the WASH facilities that had been installed by JOA at one of the schools and speak to the Headteacher about what an incredible difference this had made to the school. To be able to see projects on the ground has been a life-changing experience and I have really valued the opportunity to speak to the teachers about their work.

Alongside all the project work, there is also a lot of work to be done towards the Street Child Sierra Leone Marathon which takes place in April. With this I have had the opportunity to work on sponsorship, working with local companies and businesses who want to support the event! I have been able to travel up to Makeni, where the marathon takes place, and take part in stakeholder meetings and be able to work with the Event Director and Event Officer on logistics for the event. Both across the programmes and with the organisation of the Street Child Sierra Leone Marathon, it has been really valuable to be able to work so closely with an implementing partner and this has been something I haven’t experienced before and has been such an incredible learning opportunity for me. I am really looking forward to the next two months, and what they have in store and making the most of my remaining time in Sierra Leone.