Aspiring journalist Augustine Conteh, aka “Big Chief”, reports from Freetown, Sierra Leone

MercyHome Freetown celebrates its inauguration

On the day of July 15, 2018, MercyHome Freetown was declared officially open. The inauguration ceremony was held at Jackson Hall, Cambell Town, just down the road from the home. Because it is the rainy season, we had to organise an indoor venue, but as it turned out, we were very lucky that there was no rain that day. In fact, the weather was so good!

Invitations had been given to members of the community, officials and noted figures. Among those that attended were a young man from social welfare (gender and children’s affairs), the community chair lady, the youth leader, and a lady who advises young girls. Our very own Momoh was responsible for “registration” of the visitors, and he wrote and distributed name badges to all the guests.

The ceremony was opened by the chairman, and founder James Gray gave a welcome address and made a statement about MercyHome, its background and future direction. He emphasised that the main focus of MercyHome Freetown is on education.

A journalist from national TV station Star TV came to cover the event. He interviewed the founders, James and Valerie, as well as myself, Saffiatu and Haja (it was Haja’s 17th birthday that very day) as representatives of the MercyHome kids. During the interview we were encouraged to explain to people how MercyHome has helped us.

Many activities had been organised, and food had been prepared for the guests, which we transported from the home to the venue. The MercyHome kids had also prepared for the ceremony and each of us introduced ourselves, we performed a song and dance routine, as well as a short skit, or play, with a moral.

The turnout for the inauguration was good, and for us the highlight of the programme was a performance by well-known Sierra Leonean comedian, Agnes Bockarie, who made everybody laugh. He even involved the kids in a funny performance, a kind of knock-out dance competition. The representative from the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs encouraged all of the kids of MercyHome to take our academic work seriously, to work hard to achieve our goals and make our dreams come true. He also thanked the founders of MercyHome, James and Valerie, as well as the home manager, Pastor Obi, for their dedicated work towards the development of the MercyHome kids, and gave them a few words of encouragement.

The inauguration ceremony was a great success, the weather was perfect, and the food was excellent. On behalf of the MercyHome kids, I want to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation for all the great work MercyHome Freetown is doing for our development. We thank you all!

Augustine Conteh (Big Chief)