I have now reached the end of my 4 months in Sierra Leone working with the Street Child team. While I settle back into my old life, it is amazing to reflect on everything that has happened and everything I have learnt during my time there. The last two months were an absolute whirlwind due to the busy schedule that we had balancing the Street Child Sierra Leone Marathon at the end of April, which included over 400 national and 82 international runners and the closing of some of our projects. After months of preparing for the event, it was fantastic to see it all finally coming together and see how important an event it is in Sierra Leone. Having led on sponsorship for the event, it was fantastic to be able to work with all the sponsors to make sure it was a really successful event, and I was so pleased to have so many key companies in Sierra Leone involved and them to have felt that the event was really brilliant.
During marathon week, we also had the opportunity to go out to communities and visit project schools. These were again schools which JOA had helped with the implementation of WASH programmes, including building toilets and wells. It was amazing to see what impact these had on the schools, and I also had the opportunity to meet Kabah who led on the JOA implementation. It was so great to be able to meet him and discuss the success of the project. After a much-needed couple of days rest after the marathon, it was straight back into it, as in country schedules often have no room for breaks!
A project that I was leading on closed at the end of April, which meant it was important to make sure to have all the data required collated and to start on the process of writing a draft for the final report. This was really interesting to work on and having worked on the project since I arrived in Sierra Leone, it gave me a real opportunity to put what I had learnt - both in terms of writing and data collection skills but also in terms of the project - all together.
Despite the very busy nature of my last two months, a number of public holidays in Sierra Leone also gave me the opportunity to explore more of the country and learn more about the people and the history, which I feel is such an essential part of getting to know where you are working and the context that you are working in. I was able to go to Tacuguama Chimpanzee Sanctuary where for the past 20 years they have been rescuing chimpanzees, who are the national animal of Sierra Leone, and looking after them. I also had the opportunity to got to Bunce Island which was used as a slave island in order transport slaves to America. This was an incredibly interesting and moving experience and very much helped further to shape my understanding of Sierra Leone.
Over the last 4 months, I have had the most incredible opportunity to learn so much more about development work, to learn about Sierra Leone and of course to learn so much about myself as a person. There are definitely challenges that are faced working in country, but again this is all part of learning and adapting to different situations. It may be cheesy to say, but it absolutely has been a life-changing experience that I will cherish forever. In terms of what is next, after a few weeks of resting and adapting back to normal life, I will continue to pursue my ambition to work in development and continue to learn so much more, and put everything I have learnt over the past 4 months to good use!