Saturday, August 26, 2006

::[glimpses of salone]::

thank you timap for justice for an amazingly rich, educational, and productive summer in sierra leone. sorry i never had much of a chance to update my blog or post photos during these past few months...many of the amazing pictures i took featured friends and neighors who preferred their privacy, and would not appreciate having their image posted on the internet. anyone is welcome to come over to my place and check out my personal album, though, which has the incredible highlights of the 6GB of photos I took during my three months in west africa! it was truly a beautiful experience, visually as well as spiritually.

here are a few snapshots that i can share with everyone!

helping to prepare dinner to the best of my ability. on the menu - millet, leaf stew, and cassava, drenched in palm oil. pretty much everything i ate in sierra leone was swimming in two inches of the bright red liquid.

a view of mofwe village from my house, where i lived with my good friend marian, the paralegal with whom i was paired, and her extended family.

every morning, marian and i walked two miles on this dirt path through verdant forest to timap for justice's kaniya office. there, we investigated, mediated, and monitored various personal and community-level problems throughout the chiefdom.

celebrating the opening of a new health clinic in kaniya. marian, well-known for her work in our "human rights office", was asked to speak as a community representative at this festival.

hanging laundry in bo town. bo is the second largest city in sierra leone, and a day or two's worth of travel from mofwe. i would hitchhike there every few weeks for some downtime - and for such luxuries as the internet and the company of fellow american interns stationed nearby.

my very happy young friends from mokpendeh. timap for justice conducted "mobile clinics" - regular visits to remote villages such as mokpendeh - in an attempt to expand access to their legal services beyond the communities surrounding their offices.

a neighbor prospecting for diamonds near mofwe. since my office was in diamond mining country, one of my main projects involved investigating and obtaining recognition and compensation for dozens of farmers whose lands were destroyed by a large mining company's prospecting, as well as for communities whose safety and access to water, schools, hospitals, and other basic needs were damaged by the erosion and gaping pits left over from the company's mining.

freetown, the capital city of salone, is chaotic and amazing. the streets are clogged with women balancing multiple tiers of food-filled baskets on their heads, men hauling overflowing wooden carts, and children selling charcoal and fruit, all fighting for space with the wild, honking vehicles.

another view of freetown, from the hills. at night, the city falls into darkness. streetside peddlers set up shop on sawhorses and work by candlelight, since the only electricity in the city comes from personal generators owned by business and the relatively few individuals who can afford them privately. The only other illumination comes from the rubbish fires flickering throughout the city.

dressed to the nines with marian, my coworker and host, and our neighbors! many late nights chatting on our verandas helped me pick up mende, the local language, pretty quickly.


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