Will White and his mum Helena travelled to Sierra Leone in October half-term. Midwife Helena was visiting with her charity The African Maternity Link, while Will joined her for his very first trip to Africa. Helena and soccer-mad Will kindly took time out of their busy schedule, which included hospital visits and meeting the President of Sierra Leone, to drop in on the MercyHome children. Here, in their own words, is an account of their eventful African adventure.
Just as I had got used to the chaos on the roads in Bo – people, cars, dogs, children, motorbikes (which was the most useful mode of transport and great fun) -, we travelled back to Freetown on the public bus. We had to catch it at 6am, so another early morning! It wouldn’t have taken so long if it didn’t stop so much at ‘motorway service stations’ – markets on the side of the road where you could buy anything from live chickens to imported biscuits.
The children seemed so happy, much more than I had expected, they were friendly and chatty, asking me about England and how things were different here
I was looking forward to going back to Freetown to play more football – firstly with the children from MercyHome, and then my ultimate dream – on the beach. We arrived late at MercyHome and all the children were waiting for us. We drove into the compound and they came up to greet us – I was hesitant to say hello, as I didn’t know any of them, but they made me feel so welcome, and gave us a banquet to eat straight away. The food was very nice, I tried African chicken for the first time and it was gorgeous – we were so appreciative of a good meal.
I felt very lucky to have been born into the life and place that I was, all the opportunities available to me and a nice warm home, making me think about my mother and father
Then the children sang songs, danced and did magic tricks for us. Ibrahim made me get up and dance – I was so embarrassed, I didn’t know what to do! The children seemed so happy, much more than I had expected, they were friendly and chatty, asking me about England and how things were different here. We had taken a new football and pump, so got that set up and started a kick-about.
The compound was much smaller than I thought it would be but we managed some good skills work. When we left I felt pleased that we had gone to see them, that I had met them after all this time, especially after talking to Augustine on the phone over the years. I felt very lucky to have been born into the life and place that I was, all the opportunities available to me and a nice warm home, making me think about my mother and father. It’s not something I had thought about much before – why would I? Life is just what it is, until you’re shown what it could have been.
When we left I felt pleased that we had gone to see them, that I had met them after all this time, especially after talking to Augustine on the phone over the years
Leaving the children with as many of my clothes as I had been able to bring with me, we set off into the darkness, back to Freetown and our last day.
Pancakes and maple syrup for breakfast – this was going to be a good day!! Football on the beach. My mum’s friend came to pick me up and we went all the way along Lumley beach and met his friends. They were really friendly and
happy for me to play in their team, although they were all big strong men with a ball that moves so quickly across the sand. I found it very different to playing at home, but still, I scored a goal!! Big tick off my bucket list but I’ll definitely be back to do it again!
Sierra Leone – hot, busy and full of happiness.
Thank you, Will and Helena; MercyHome Freetown and the kids really appreciated your visit!