So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye

The saddest part of the trip would be saying goodbye to the kids, but all journeys have a beginning and an end. Today, Wednesday, we spent the morning packing and saying our farewells to the staff of “The Place”, who had treated us like royalty. You would be very hard pressed to find a nicer group of staff, some of whom had become friends and taken us into their hearts, and their homes.

At breakfast I was approached by Edward, a member of staff who had served us most mornings. He mentioned that he loved the fluorescent yellow trainers I had been wearing. Sadly, not only were they wet through from the previous day’s downpour, the MercyHome dogs had also had a bit of a chew on them and the laces were now in pieces! They were in fact a retired pair of runners, and I had planned to dispose of them after the trip, but Edward insisted they were fine and would like to have them. So, slightly apologetically, I handed him my soaked trainers with no laces, and he was pleased as punch to have them.

After breakfast we met with Ibrahim, and he drove us to MercyHome for the final time. We arrived around noon, which gave us a couple of hours to spend with the kids before heading to Lungi and the airport. We had a final assembly with the kids, chatted about the trip and our plans for the future, and the kids said a prayer and sang a song to say farewell. We took several photos, which is always cause for excitement: whip out your camera and there are immediately shouts of “Snap me, snap me!”

We left about 2.30pm for the two hour drive to the airport. Along the way we had to fill up with diesel, which always gives young street kids the opportunity to surround the vehicle and try to sell us snacks. We bought some nuts and a few bags of dried plantains, a simple, cheap and very tasty snack. We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare before our evening flight. Unfortunately, there is very little to do at Lungi International Airport, so we grabbed a bitto eat and chilled out, reflecting on our trip. Thinking back, practically every minute had been accounted for, and we had been kept incredibly busy.

Before leaving MercyHome, Kanga and Haja had given me letters to read on the plane. But with so much time to spare before the flight, I couldn’t resist opening them in the departure hall. They had written some very touching words, and their letters made me both sad and happy. It left me in no doubt that our efforts were worthwhile, and already made me eager to return.

So until next time, Salone. We look forward to another visit in the new year.