"On The Road"

The Operation Classroom team got a good glimpse of life in Sierra Leone. Traveling on the highway north-east from Freetown and then taking less used and developed roads team members traveled to Magburaka, Kabala, Bumbuna, Bo and other smaller towns and villages.

The 'CIA' factbook gives the following background on Sierra Leone:

"The 1991 to 2002 civil war between the government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (about one-third of the population), many of whom are now refugees in neighboring countries. With the support of the UN peacekeeping force and contributions from the World Bank and international community, demobilization and disarmament of the RUF and Civil Defense Forces (CDF) combatants has been completed. National elections were held in May 2002 and the government continues to slowly reestablish its authority. However, the gradual withdrawal of most UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) peacekeepers in 2004 and early 2005, deteriorating political and economic conditions in Guinea, and the tenuous security situation in neighboring Liberia may present challenges to the continuation of Sierra Leone's stability."

July is the rainy season in Sierra Leone. The picture [top right] shows the coast just north of Freetown. The Operation Classroom van, a division of the United Methodist Conference, transported the team to Makeni, Bumbana, Kabala and other smaller villages in Sierra Leone. Below is a picture taken by Richard Frazier of a taxi stalled in a stream on the way to Bumbuna Falls. The rainy season made travel to the smaller villages an adventure.

Sierra Leoneons participate in a thriving market economy. Citizens work hard and demonstrated a positive attitude despite the hardships that Sierra Leone has endured. The 'OC' team was inspired by the many examples of Sierra Leoneons helping Sierra Leoneons. As the team traveled they observed citizens hard at work at moving their country forward.

'OC' team member Hope Law [far left] brought smiles to many faces. We all wondered where she got the time to dye her hair in such vibrant colors.

Kabala Clinic

The NarSarah clinic is located in Kabala. It is a place where people can come and receive basic health care or be transported to a larger hospital. Dorcas [Kargbo] Kamanda and her brother PeaceMaker Kargo started the clinic. Dorcas was a student at the UMC Harford School located in Moyamba when Hope and Les law taught there [ 1965-68]. The 'OC' team visited the clinic on Tuesday, July 26. PeaceMaker and Dorcas were assisted by American nurses Abigail Feinstein [Yale University] and Wylie Dassie [Providence, RI] who traveled to Kabala to assist in clinic operations. Mothers walked for hours in order to bring their babies to the clinic.

Top left: PeaceMaker Kargbo looks on as a mother brings her baby in for treatment and evaluation. Upper right: K.M. Kargbo on the left, Theresa Finah Kargbo in the middle and PeaceMaker Kargbo. Bottom left: [L-R] Wylie Dassie, PeaceMaker, Abigail Feinstein and Finah Kargbo administer to a clinic patient. The pictures give an idea of the number of mothers who brought their children to the clinic. The available medicines were exhausted by 1 PM and while mothers and children were evaluated lack of medicines hindered followup treatment. How you can help.

"The Spirit Of Giving Back"

Right: Dorcas [Kargbo] Kamanda [ center with yellow package] and her husband Dan were members of the OC team. Dan helped organize and teach the science workshop in Makeni while Dorcas worked at setting up the clinic in Kabala. Dorcas was a student at Harford the UMC secondary school for girls in Moyamba, Sierra Leone in 1965-68 when Hope Law and Dave Figi were mathematics teachers at Harford. Dorcas is at the University of Rhode Island (MSN) where she is the head of the Graduate Program in Nurse-Midwifery in the College of Nursing at Kingston, RI . She is an example of the many Sierra Leoneons who are giving much needed support and leadership in their home country

Above: Elaine Blinn at the Kabala Clinic with some of the children who accompanied their mothers to the clinic. The children of Sierra Leone reinforced daily the purpose of Operation Classroom. In his recording "Save The World" that is on the CD LUCIANO A New Day the Jamican musician and singer Luciano stated a philosophy taken from an old spiritual that is shared by team members of Operation Classroom: "If you want to save the World you gotta save the children. Set an example for the children to follow to make a brighter tomorrow."

Bumbuna Dam Field Trip

The mathematics and science workshops each took a field trip to the Bumbuna Dam. Teachers used the trip to formulate ideas and lessons that they could use with their students. Using hydro-electric power to further the progress of Sierra Leone was reinforced by the trip to the Bumbuna Dam.

Once the gates in the dam are closed it would take about six months for the water to rise. Money, relocation of 18 villages affected by the rising water levels and enviromental concerns by organizations in Europe and America have prevented the final stage of the dam project to be completed. The original project was started in 1975. The war [ 1992-2002] interrupted the project.

Mathematics workshop participants visited the dam on Thursday, July 21. Left: Teachers taking notes and formulating projects that they can use with their students. Above: Mathematics teachers on an overlook downstream from the dam. An Italian construction company is awaiting the go ahead to complete the final phase of the dam project. The electricity generated would greatly help the economy of Sierra Leone.

One of the two towers where water will spill down over two-hundred feet onto turbines which will power the generators. The picture gives the viewer an idea of how high the water will rise in the valley before the water level is high enough to power the turbines.