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Trip to Sierra Leone. John Skinnader. Spiritan. A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to return to Sierra Leone since I left there at the beginning of the conflict in 1990. I returned with Fr. Noel O‘Meara’s organization called Nachestenlibe Weltweit (Love of Neighbour Worldwide) – a Spiritan German organisation set up mainly to support Spiritans and other Spiritan contacts working as missionaries in overseas development situations. I was originally working in Koidu – Kono District . I had been there for nearly 10 years and had witnessed the continued slide of Sierra Leone into poverty, corruption and eventually conflict during my years in Kono. For this reason, during my time as a missionary in Kono , I moved away from development works to put more focus on Justice and Peace works. We had begun quite well in helping to conscientize the people around these issues, many Muslims joined us in our organization, but alas the war halted our efforts. So, I was not expecting any great changes when I returned to Sierra Leone a few weeks ago but I must say I was presently surprised by the upbeat nature of things in the country. I arrived into Lungi and was greeted by a new airport and an efficient and friendly staff. We were jetted off by the new hovercraft to the side of Lumley beach where Frs. Augustine and Anthony awaited us. Then we had a nice meal in one of the many new resorts that have sprung up on Lumley beach. Lumley beach had changed in character. Instead of it being filled with Lebanese and whites from all around the globe , it was the Sierra Leoneans themselves who were enjoying the beauty of their country. Many were Sierra Leoneans who had returned from the USA, Europe and Australia. It was great to witness this change. The next day was Sunday and I participated in the liturgy in St. Martins Parish. Here, one could feel the good rapport between the priests and the people – the Church was full for both Masses and many gifts were brought to the altar – rice, eggs, fruit, bottled water and wine. After Mass – food was brought to the house for lunch – a great sign of appreciation by the people for their priests – the food was delicious. The next day we began our journey to BO, via Waterloo . In Waterloo we visited projects by the Holy Rosary sisters among people who had been displaced by the war and Ebola. There was a joyfull mood in the air – people getting on with their lives and not begging to be helped but feeling empowered to do things by themselves as was evidenced by the work that they had begun in a communal farm scheme and a new primary school in their midst. We continued on to Bo and a beautiful new road and we reached there in record time – compared to the past when so many pot holes had to be overcome. In BO, we stayed in a very nice new 4 star hotel – very reasonably priced and full of UN and NGO personnel. BO had grown to be a city really but without any good street planning etc. It was difficult to move aound in it but still there was a great buzz to life everywhere. Here the Holy Rosary Sisters run a very good girls school – the girls were very articulate on what they wanted from life and how they had been concentized by the sisters on girls rights and the abuse of power by men. They were very articulate when they spoke on sexual abuse issues in Sierra Leone. Certainly a new generation of well educated women and girls were emerging in Sierra Leone. We also visited a Cassava women’s project outside of BO – also run by the Holy Rosary Sisters. Here the sisters have 50 acres of land and there are 50 women who plant cassava on this land and have a small factory to grind the cassava root, dry the cassava root and package it for sale locally and abroad. The leaf is used as a vegetable to feed their families. In this way the women have a good income for their families. The Spiritans in BO have a school and a large Church which they call a shrine . It is here that people can come to make pilgrimage and ease the terrible memories of the war and the ebola epidemic. The Spiritians continue to make good strides at becoming more self sufficient and supporting the people to become well educated and developed. One of the Spiritans in BO Fr. Gabriel Lusene had just published a book on “Corruption in Sierra Leone” – they were willing to look at critically some of the issues still challangeing the country but by and large good progress has been made by the past 2 governments in power to deal with corruption and mis management of the resources of the country. In Kenema : The church continues to run the Pastoral Center there and many schools and institutions. The Holy Rosaries also run schools which are very well attended and have a high reputation for quality education. In coming to Sierra Leone I was expecting to find a country on its knees after a terrible war and the outbreak of Ebola. Instead I found a people and a nation in full flow of rebuilding their country with great enthuasim and progressive wills. It was also great to see the local Church continuing on the mission started by missionaries centuries ago. It was indeed an uplifting experience to return to Sierra Leone. John Skinnader. Spiritan
The cassava packed and ready for sale.
Greetings and apologies for the long silence , part of the reason being that I went back to Sierra Leone my old stomping ground. I have included my report on the visit here and will send some more photos also. I have returned to South Sudan and everything going on grand here. Hope you will all enjoy a good Summer in Ireland. Blessings John
All Content Copyright emyvale.net
Trip to Sierra Leone. John Skinnader. Spiritan. A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to return to Sierra Leone since I left there at the beginning of the conflict in 1990. I returned with Fr. Noel O‘Meara’s organization called Nachestenlibe Weltweit (Love of Neighbour Worldwide) – a Spiritan German organisation set up mainly to support Spiritans and other Spiritan contacts working as missionaries in overseas development situations. I was originally working in Koidu – Kono District . I had been there for nearly 10 years and had witnessed the continued slide of Sierra Leone into poverty, corruption and eventually conflict during my years in Kono. For this reason, during my time as a missionary in Kono , I moved away from development works to put more focus on Justice and Peace works. We had begun quite well in helping to conscientize the people around these issues, many Muslims joined us in our organization, but alas the war halted our efforts. So, I was not expecting any great changes when I returned to Sierra Leone a few weeks ago but I must say I was presently surprised by the upbeat nature of things in the country. I arrived into Lungi and was greeted by a new airport and an efficient and friendly staff. We were jetted off by the new hovercraft to the side of Lumley beach where Frs. Augustine and Anthony awaited us. Then we had a nice meal in one of the many new resorts that have sprung up on Lumley beach. Lumley beach had changed in character. Instead of it being filled with Lebanese and whites from all around the globe , it was the Sierra Leoneans themselves who were enjoying the beauty of their country. Many were Sierra Leoneans who had returned from the USA, Europe and Australia. It was great to witness this change. The next day was Sunday and I participated in the liturgy in St. Martins Parish. Here, one could feel the good rapport between the priests and the people – the Church was full for both Masses and many gifts were brought to the altar – rice, eggs, fruit, bottled water and wine. After Mass – food was brought to the house for lunch – a great sign of appreciation by the people for their priests – the food was delicious. The next day we began our journey to BO, via Waterloo . In Waterloo we visited projects by the Holy Rosary sisters among people who had been displaced by the war and Ebola. There was a joyfull mood in the air – people getting on with their lives and not begging to be helped but feeling empowered to do things by themselves as was evidenced by the work that they had begun in a communal farm scheme and a new primary school in their midst. We continued on to Bo and a beautiful new road and we reached there in record time – compared to the past when so many pot holes had to be overcome. In BO, we stayed in a very nice new 4 star hotel – very reasonably priced and full of UN and NGO personnel. BO had grown to be a city really but without any good street planning etc. It was difficult to move aound in it but still there was a great buzz to life everywhere. Here the Holy Rosary Sisters run a very good girls school – the girls were very articulate on what they wanted from life and how they had been concentized by the sisters on girls rights and the abuse of power by men. They were very articulate when they spoke on sexual abuse issues in Sierra Leone. Certainly a new generation of well educated women and girls were emerging in Sierra Leone. We also visited a Cassava women’s project outside of BO – also run by the Holy Rosary Sisters. Here the sisters have 50 acres of land and there are 50 women who plant cassava on this land and have a small factory to grind the cassava root, dry the cassava root and package it for sale locally and abroad. The leaf is used as a vegetable to feed their families. In this way the women have a good income for their families. The Spiritans in BO have a school and a large Church which they call a shrine . It is here that people can come to make pilgrimage and ease the terrible memories of the war and the ebola epidemic. The Spiritians continue to make good strides at becoming more self sufficient and supporting the people to become well educated and developed. One of the Spiritans in BO Fr. Gabriel Lusene had just published a book on “Corruption in Sierra Leone” – they were willing to look at critically some of the issues still challangeing the country but by and large good progress has been made by the past 2 governments in power to deal with corruption and mis management of the resources of the country. In Kenema : The church continues to run the Pastoral Center there and many schools and institutions. The Holy Rosaries also run schools which are very well attended and have a high reputation for quality education. In coming to Sierra Leone I was expecting to find a country on its knees after a terrible war and the outbreak of Ebola. Instead I found a people and a nation in full flow of rebuilding their country with great enthuasim and progressive wills. It was also great to see the local Church continuing on the mission started by missionaries centuries ago. It was indeed an uplifting experience to return to Sierra Leone. John Skinnader. Spiritan
The cassava packed and ready for sale.
Greetings and apologies for the long silence , part of the reason being that I went back to Sierra Leone my old stomping ground. I have included my report on the visit here and will send some more photos also. I have returned to South Sudan and everything going on grand here. Hope you will all enjoy a good Summer in Ireland. Blessings John BACK