From the very first moments after customs passport control, we were like honey to bees, especially when arriving with BMI. Every opportunity was taken from the locals to serve us for $$$. It is extremely easy to fall in the trap in giving tips before the service is completed, and if so, the tip is never enough. Thanks to Fr Themi who advised us to only give a tip after the service is fulfilled.
After living in Sydney Australia for some years, I never thought Sydney peak-hour traffic could be beaten until experiencing traffic downtown Freetown. It’s not only cars, motorbike taxis and trucks that fill the roads, but people of every type; commuters, children, homeless (sometimes seen sleeping on the edge of the footpath), beggars (both genuine, professional, and disabled of every kind) who persist for making their basic ends meet or sometimes exceed their needs, salespeople who persistently insist that you must buy, even street money exchangers who will mark you and approach you on every opportunity.
Practically, everything you need can be bought in the street from your open car window. It’s funny to see how in some parts of the world people look for drive through services, and here in downtown Freetown it’s already in practice. On the one hand you save a lot of time here in the ability for buying things in the street, but you lose even more time with the traffic.
A common sight which impressed me is the frequent and natural tendency in strangers helping random children cross the road. Even I found myself pushing a child out of a car’s path, whilst walking along the side of a congested road. Sometimes it seems that getting saved is a natural happening.
I get the feeling of living in a large overcrowded village of old, unless you have a generator, electricity is not constant due to frequent blackouts. Water is commonly stored in large tanks, and for those who can’t afford them, there are public taps in the streets (also contributing to traffic) with free water where people line up with their containers to fill them up. It’s so easy to take things for granted.
Every Friday is traditional dress-up day. Awesome, bright colours dancing with local African designs, adds flavour to traffic jam.
Local LOUD music often fills whole suburbs into the very late hours. Although quite repetitive, it somehow relieves what poverty creates in one’s heart.
Just about everything is carried on peoples head. So far I’ve seen 9 baskets high full of coal being balanced on one’s head with the most elegant walk. As a chiropractor, it is the best exercise for correcting one’s posture.
Rock breakers? An amazing sight to see huge car size blue stone boulders (naturally found in the ground at Tower Hill) be broken down to pebbles MANUALLY, for the making of cement. Imagine buildings, houses, retaining walls and stairways, road draining systems, etc, all made manually. These tough labourers have statue bodies that have no need for the gym… total respect.
Things progress slowly here, but somehow with Divine help and overseas support from PK4A, P4K, and other international donors, Fr Themi’s love to serve our Lord through people, even in such difficult conditions, this Mission has impressively achieved much in its short time of life (3-4 years).