Sunday, July 6, 2008

A visit to school ...

Today we visited the school right down the hill from the COTN guesthouse. This is the first building that COTN built here in Sierra Leone. The foundation was painstakingly laid by a team of American volunteers in 1997. In the midst of the war, the roof was still yet to be completed, but it finally opened as a COTN school and orphanage around 2003. The bottom floor was used for classrooms, the second floor was living quarters for children and the women (known as “aunties”) who cared for them and the third floor is a large all-purpose room with a full kitchen, offices and a medical room. Now that the "home children" have all been moved to Banta Mokelleh, both bottom floors are used for school classrooms. The building is large and its obvious that a lot of hard work and planning went into it. It is still a school in Sierra Leone, however, where electricity is not always common – the classrooms are lit by windows and school supplies are treasures the teachers and students must share.

When we entered the gates of the schoolyard, it was obvious that we had come at recess time. Though there were no swing sets or slides, the children have room to roam and play to get their wiggles out. The moment we entered, we were suddenly swarmed with children from all sides – fighting to hold our hands, wrapping their black arms around our waists and clinging to our fingers and wrists. It was almost comical – they have so much love to give. We stood and played with them, asked for names and ages, favorite colors and dreams. We played hand-clap games and Scott lifted little ones into the air. A few boys played ball on the side and the older girls stood in clumps, some brave enough to come and speak in English to the white visitors. It was overwhelming in a sense because we were basically attacked by very excited children – all little replicas of one another in their green-and-white-checked school uniforms, which had rips here and tears there. They all wanted our attention and they were all happy with a smile, a hello, a touch. In another sense, it was amazing. What a feeling to be bombarded with little ones who want nothing more than to hold your hand, touch your strange white skin and smile up at you? It doesn’t get much better than that.

Oh yeah, the school was great, too.

Took place on June 13

5 comments:

Gayle said...

Scott & Laura,
It was so good to see a new blog from you two. I love reading about your adventures in Sierra Leone. I really enjoyed reading about your scavenger hunt...I could just picture Scott and his long legs in the poota-poota. What a site that must have been. I bet he was glad to stand after that ride.
I am proud of you two!

I love you and miss you. Mom (GC)

David/Amy said...

It is so awesome to hear about your experiences in Sierra Leone. Thanks for sharing with us! I can't wait to hear more details and see pictures. We are praying for you and we love you!!!

~David, Amy and Grady

ted said...

Scott,

I'm so thrilled to read about your time in Sierra Leone so far, I can't believe a month has passed. I am praying that God will continue to use you both and your team in a mighty way for His kingdom. I know you will come back a changed man. I can't wait to hear the stories and see the amazing pics.

miss you bro.

Lord Bless

-Ted

Ken Lopez said...

Ha! Your description of the "poota-poota" reminded me of the "taxis" in Goa, india. The drivers were always dodging the millions of people wandering the dirt roads, and were more afraid of hitting a cow than a person.

It must be so exciting that both of you get to share this experience together!

-Ken

Julie said...

Scott and Laura,

I loved reading your descriptions of the places and experiences - it's like being back again! I am praying that things are going well for you and your team.

Tell everyone hi from Aunty Julie!

- Julie