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...

Monday, January 24, 2011


(written December 6th after first returning from the hospital)

So, it seems that it is about that time.  The trip is now over.  I have been home for over two weeks, and though most of that was spent sick and in the hospital, it is now time to start assessing the trip itself and what came from it. 

So my initial goal was to spend three months walking through Sierra Leone in an effort to learn a great deal more about the country, the diversity of its people, about poverty, about development, and to try to identify prospective humanitarian ventures to undertake in the future.  Ultimately my personal goals where to make myself a better, more knowledgeable person (instead of sitting around unemployed), to fill what I felt was a hole in my resume, and to perhaps either come away with a job, my own non-profit, or a good story to write.

As the trip went, I never once did any hiking.  The most I did was walk all around the city of Makeni and its outlaying areas.  In this respect my "walking" trip never even happened, let alone could it be considered a success.  But realistically, only in this respect could the trip be considered a failure.  On every other account on my agenda the trip was a resounding success.  Granted, it was absolutely NOTHING as I anticipated or planned for it to be.  I ended up spending a more specific amount of time with a specific family and in a specific neighborhood and didn't get much diversity in.  I was inundated the society and culture there in a way that I never could have if I was hiking from village to village as planned.

I ate nothing but local food and drank the local water, everything in fact was local.  I started to establish relationships with people and people in town started to recognize me and call my name as I passed.  It was a very good feeling.  I worked at being able to speak to them in Krio and at least address them in Temne.  As with anywhere you go, I feel a subtle show of respect like this goes a long way.

The heart of the trip very quickly turned from exploration to more concrete discussions on specific developmental initiatives.  So much so that I have a list of projects that I've come back with and two signed Memorandum's of Understanding that I have with the local Development Council for future work.  The whole initial reason to come back early was to get started with setting these projects in motion.  The trip jumped straight into development work, no fun and games allowed!  This specifically is why it would be utterly impossible to call the trip a failure, or even not a resounding success. 

The issue now is going to be following through with them.  I came back and have gotten very sick, and to the point where I have been recommended by my doctors here not to return to Sierra Leone.  This may prove to be nothing, but it certainly changes the game a little bit.  No matter though, I now have to sit down and assess where I am both personally and professionally with the trip and possible projects.  Is the team that I established while there ready to make things happen, and what needs to be done to do this.  The work is only just beginning!!

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