On Thursday, my family is off to Sierra Leone for a two-week adventure. Wish us luck!
Cast of characters: me (Luke) a yuppie from the suburbs working in music software; my father Joel, a motorcycle-riding B.S. M.S.T. and all-around badass who has had careers in pea-vining, engineering, childcare, and education; my aunt Dorcas, a former short-order cook, dump truck and steamroller operator, and current civil engineer; my aunt Julie, a lifelong nurse and current nurse practitioner working in primary care; my uncle Harry, a diesel mechanic and raisin farmer who can handle more spice in his food than any man alive; my cousin Jeremy, a laid-back gym bro who parties even harder than he lifts; and my cousin Hannah, who studied history, social studies, and education, and runs a church youth group. Joel, Dorcas, and Julie haven’t been in Sierra Leone since 1969, and the rest of us have never been there.
What are we doing there? Good question. We’re going to be working on a latrine system for a public school in Freetown which you can read more about here, distributing Days for Girls kits, and my dad and Julie will be giving health and education seminars. I’ll be documenting the trip and doing my best to make myself useful however I can. The trip is being organized through the United Methodist Church by Don and Marilyn Griffith, who have been organizing service projects in Sierra Leone for several years.
My grandparents were missionaries in Sierra Leone in the 1950s and 60s, and my dad and his siblings were raised there. My grandfather Lester had a career in tropical agroforestry, running experimental projects for sustainable farming: building fish ponds, raising chickens, pigs, and rabbits, trying out new varieties of rice, and planting a teak orchard. My grandmother Winnie worked as a doctor, operating a well-baby clinic and an obstetric clinic, and treating whatever illness and injury she could. So this trip is hugely meaningful to all of us. For Dorcas, Joel, and Julie, this is a chance to go home.
Along with the projects we’re working on, we’ll have an opportunity to visit Manjama, where my father was born and where my grandmother ran her clinic. Apart from that, we’ll be making a lot of friends, taking in the culture, the landscape, the food, and in general getting a chance to experience this beautiful country for the first time or for the first time in decades!
Internet permitting, I’ll be updating this blog as we go and posting some pictures from my phone, and after I get home I’ll post all the pictures I’ll be taking with my camera.
Bye for now! Expect an update on Thursday sometime during our 16 hours of flying.