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Our fourth day was dedicated to immersing ourselves in the local culture, allowing us to experience first-hand the living conditions, the places where they live and the daily activities of the people of Sierra Leone.

People live on the streets, sleep on the ground, live in dilapidated houses and shops simply don’t exist. Their homes are often tin shacks, and they are lucky if they have a roof over their heads.

The average daily wage is between two and three dollars.

There isn’t much to see, apart from a church and the local market, which is dimly lit and bustling with activity, selling local handicrafts and colourful fabrics.

Young children approached us, but not to beg, as is common in many other African or South American countries.

The people we met were kind and respectful. They know what Mercy Ships is doing for them and they have an attitude of gratitude and admiration towards the organisation. They know many lives can change thanks to Mercy Ships.

In the evening we dined at a beach restaurant with some of the volunteers. The setting would have been picturesque, had it not been for the litter strewn about.

There were disabled people walking the streets amid rampant poverty.

Few of us really understand the extent of what we have in our modern society.

One man, his eyes filled with terror, stopped us to ask for help for his wife. He had a baby girl just a few months old in his arms, while his wife appeared to be in great distress

Unfortunately, Mercy Ships cannot help all of them, but Paula, the volunteer supervising our stay, offered to pay for a teke teke for them, but the family declined, opting instead to board a scooter taxi. The woman became so weak she collapsed on the ground.

As the motorbike drove off, their faces were no longer filled with fear, but with resignation and emptiness. They had resigned themselves to the worst possible fate, because everybody in Sierra Leone knows that “going to hospital means dying”.

The haunting expressions of these people stayed with us throughout the night and left an indelible mark on our memories.

What can we do? Surely, if each of us took action, we could alleviate the suffering of many.



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