What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Friday, August 13, 2010



So as things are slowly coming together, so is the financial picture.  And it is not pretty.  I suppose as the nature of this venture is non-profit, open, and charitable, there are no secrets!!  So here is my current financial report, for Friday the 13th, August 2010!!

In July and August thus far I have spent $95 on car insurance, $40 on gas (yeah I don't leave the house - I can't afford it!!), $27 on my phone, $50 on food (in addition to food stamps), and $50 cash which has some gas in there and a $16 book for my mom.  Not like I'm living it up.  But car insurance and gas kill you (I hate cars by the way;), and I still have to cover those costs for two more months.  Unfortunately when I was planning my trip I was planning on leaving about now.  Thus I do not have the next couple months budgeted in - this will hurt.  Someone needs to hire people to just go around and help people!!  What a great job that would be, from old ladies crossing the street to charity walks in Africa!!  I'll take an application pleeeaaaaase!!

As for my budget for the trip itself, I am not far off on this.  I had been figuring $4000 total, $2000 to get there, $1000 while there, and $1000 to get ready.  My logic was that I would do it all on a shoe string as this is the way I live life anyway and don't have the means to do otherwise anyway!!  Where I seem to have come to a problem is the things that have been added, or the budgeted amount doesn't get you quality materials for this type of journey.

My New Friends...

So as my computer issues are growing, networking has become more difficult.  I have been able to establish though what looks like will be a great working and friendly relationship with two people.  If you remember my Child Help post from a while back, I've gotten a great response from two people.  One person works for this organization - his name iKaprie Thoronka (Kaps) - and he has been exceptionally helpful already.  He has even offered to pick me up when I get into the country and even that a member of his organization would show me their projects and make sure that I get to see the things that I need to see while in the country.  That is incredible compassion and hospitality, not to mention foresight. A most welcomed help.

Kaps and Stefan on top of mount Kabala...
The second person that I have been communicating with is Stefan Ernst.  He works for a similar child help organization in Germany.  He has been great in helping me get a bit better understanding of what I will be facing.  He went to Sierra Leone for a month last year and Child Help also showed him some of their work throughout the country as well.

Stefan with some of the teachers and students...
They are going to be of great help to both me and this project...  Good people are good people, and they exist all over the world!!  ;)

They look more excited about school than I did!!!


Thursday, August 12, 2010


So I got a quick call today from Vibram Five Fingers!!  And if you haven't noticed... ;) I plan to do the whole trip wearing them...  I have called them several times regarding a possible sponsorship and a rep called me back today inquiring as to my project.  She listened attentively as I (long winded as I am) tried to throw the whole project into a couple sentences.  After maybe two minutes of this I got in a, oh and I'm a former division I athlete and plan on getting after it over there!!  Right from there she decided to take my email address.  So maybe D-I makes more sense, but whatever gibberish I mumbled throughout wasn't 'wrong', because she wanted to send me a prospective sponsorship form to fill out and send back.

So small phone call, that means nothing finitely, but big deal to me.  What would only cost them maybe $60's from their merchandise pockets, would be hundreds for me to buy retail.  Money of which I don't have and couldn't spend.  This would mean using one pair for the whole trip, rain, mud, or shine - with no socks!!  I definitely need two or three to alternate with.  So we'll see.  With any luck (which of course I don't believe in) they will be able to give me a few pairs of shoes and a couple T-shirts to flaunt over there.  I can picture the photo already, me "chillin" with a school room full of kids having fun, giggling, staring at my shoes, and snapping poses off for the camera!!  Nice!!  ;)

Who likes Timmy's shoes!?!


So I just got it up a couple days ago, but it was hidden at the very bottom of the page and not sure anyone got that far!!  As things are, the budget for this little jaunt just keeps growing.  :-/  As anyone that knows me knows, I'm as frugal (cheap) as they come.  But there are limits even to my capabilities!!  Trying to get things that are both light and functional is tough.  Unfortunately living out of a backpack for three months is tricky, so anyone interesting in donating, I've put a 'Donations' button on the right side of the main page (it can also be accessed below).

I have also started a supply registry with myregistry.com.  It is a bit tricky adding things as you have to have an exact item you want.  I tend to work more in generalities.  But I will try to be more concrete and find the exact things needed.  But it is a start at this point...  

Anyway, feel free to take a look, make suggestions, advice, whatever... all of those things are always needed!!  And if there is something specific you would like to give that isn't on the list, by all means let me know...


Might as well be...
So despite my persistence of efforts, lack of means is taking a bit of a toll.  My five plus year old beast of a computer will no longer start up.  Three days now.  It is putting a tremendous burden on my work for this project.  You realize just how much our lives are centered around computers and the internet these days.  Networking, communicating, researching, whatever...  I have one that I can use, but only limitedly and the internet doesn't always work on it.  Luckily I have been mostly preparing for this and have been putting most of my data and saving things onto a flash disk/memory stick/pen drive (so many names for the same thing...), or writing things directly into online materials such as this blog service.  But it leads to one very definite new priority, computing...  I have been going back and forth with the idea of what to take to try to be connected throughout my travels.  An i phone and a keyboard were my last best estimates, but I have gotten very little response to lead me to believe that I could guarantee this would work there.  I know that Blackberry is functional, though again, have heard they don't travel well.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Productively unfulfilled

So the last couple days don't seem to have been that productive on the surface, but in fact they really were.  I guess I'm still working on the organizational facets of this preparation process.  The tricky part for me is... all this preparation!!!  I'd much rather just pack up and go.  If I had one week to get ready I'd get just enough stuff done to get there and be able to eat and sleep.  Yet undoubtedly, I'd be just as successful as if I'd done all this planning!!!
"True wisdom is different from much learning; 
Much learning means little wisdom."  - Lao Zi
Even so, though mentally it is more annoying, I am getting a lot done.  I spent some good organization time, and have some good lists as well as a better organized networking list.  Right now I have lists of NGO's working in Sierra Leone, US organizations that support Sierra Leone, possible sponsors, and one for other related websites.  It is a tedious task to get these lists to the point were they are easily usable for marketing purposes.  Meredyth (still looking for an advisory title for her;) is helping me do some organizing and collating.  Many thanks..

I also called quite a few places today, mostly to no avail or just for advice.  The Giants didn't return a message, Vibram either - pattern.  I called wintersilks about silk shirts and their moisture management capabilities (which are supposed to be good, but then told not as good as coolmax).  I was thinking I'd be ordering a shirt to test out, but was left only with hesitation and the idea that I would just go try out the long-sleeve long underwear one I have now.  I tried to get my backpack, but it is sold out of my size at L.L. Bean (had a sale), and backordered at REI till August 27th.  I now have some dilemmas with this.  REI gives great service.  If I buy anything there they give a 100% satisfaction guarantee.  I'm not satisfied, they take it back.  Good stuff.  But the pack costs $239, I can get it elsewhere for $50 less.  Ouch, and that's fine to stomach if its just one bag, but what about everything as it adds up?  Tough call...

I also looked hard at the sleeping scenario.  I will be in a hammock but still need covers of some sort, though the highest ratings sleeping bags go is 40F (4C).  I went through a bunch and found one I like - the Big Agnes Pitch Pine SL +40.  Its not completely mummy shaped so a little more room, and its really light - 1 pound (.45kg).  It is down and nylon so good on my synthetic issues.  But the one thing this company apparently does is not put any down in the bottom.  They figure it doesn't insulate you when its squished.  Not sure I'm buying that, especially as in a hammock you certainly want to have something else under you.  A pad or something to keep temperatures regulated and mosquitos at bay.  There are solutions, and they are not bad one's.  But the gist of it all...  EXPENSIVE.  This sleeping bag is $279 before you even get a pad.  I was originally told $150 at most.  But I guess if you want light, down, and packable... you pay more.  Marmot had another one that didn't look bad either for $199 - the Arete +40.  I might have to make sacrafices there, but you only buy one of these things for years...  :-/  this one is good, but its mummy style, and for some reason when it is about 60F (15C) I don't feel like I need the whole 'mummy' scenario.

Anyway, today was more about questions than answers I guess.  I looked into free business cards (vista), but didn't like much (I'm simple and they didn't have easy and simple), plus I was thinking about phone numbers both here and in Sierra Leone.  The other thing I got close to doing was to get a skype number here.  I went through their website to see about getting a phone number to get calls from.  I was going to sign up for a plan, but the unlimited too the world doesn't include mobile phones - most of what people are working with in  Sierra Leone.  So why pay for a plan to be able to call phones here?  The phone number I do need though, but I will wait till tomorrow and call and ask about both "skype to go" and "skype in."  I want to get the best solution, easier to call and ask.

The one crowning jewel of the day though was the NEW DONATIONS link on the website!!!  Now, despite this sounding shameless, I - being poor in all terms monetarily related - was hoping someone might test it out for me to see if it works??  ;)  One penny!!  Do I hear one penny!?!  Lol. 

Anyway, in all seriousness, it was a productive day, but one that didn't see much come to completion.  Tomorrow hopefully will be that day!!  Enjoy your day...      

Monday, August 9, 2010


I just came across a new study that shows Sierra Leone as about the ninth worst national in the world in terms of poverty.  The Multidimensional Poverty Index is a very interesting study that gets beyond dollars and cents, and into what people actually have and how they live.  There is a brief country report on Sierra Leone right here.

If I am reading it correctly in skimming through it, the main areas effecting poverty the most in Sierra Leone come in the living standard part - electricity, sanitation, water, cooking fuel, floors, personal assets - but also in deficient schooling and child mortality.  According to this study 81% of Sierra Leoneans are in poverty - 4.4 million people.  That is the population of the Greater Boston area.  Imagine if the entire Boston metropolitan area was in the deepest depths of poverty.

Boylston Street?
Boston Harbor...  tea anyone?

A villa in Lexington or Concord?
The view from Plymouth Rock?
Paul Revere getting ready for a midnight ride?

This would never be stood for in the United States, yet across the ocean, we let it slide...