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...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Funding an Office

I know that this project has been slow going.  Similar to most of you, I have been trying to juggle day jobs/responsibilities and the desire to see this project through.  This project means the world to me, as most of you know.  However, I have been asked by my academic advisers (I am now in a PhD program in Anthropology at Rutgers University) to step back from this work as they see it as a possible conflict of interest with my academic work.  As a result, I am not planning to spend any extended time on the ground in Sierra Leone working on this project.  This does not however mean that we will not be moving forward with our work, just that I won’t be moving to Sierra Leone!  

Our current goals are to provide a computer to send to Yapo, our country manager, and to help fund an office building there in Makeni.  That office will provide the tools to allow our team there to make things happen as per their own efforts. Our assessment is that with this office building (which will double as a community space) we will be able to launch our other programs and send volunteers to work there with our local team to see our projects through.  Yapo, has said the legitimacy of an office has been tremendously holding them back.  We are still in line for our brick making project, skills training programs, and most pressingly our women's cooperative network.  I have been actively recruiting volunteers to spend time there to help facilitate these processes, and I have some positive leads.  

For the office/community space we had looked at leasing space, but prices have risen sharply and the price of a three year lease (required) is more than if we build from scratch.  Our local team has found suitable land that garners a 25 year lease and made plans for a small office space.  They estimate that this space will cost $4600, $1000 of which they can obtain themselves for exchange in kind with the community.  This means that we need to send $3600 to them.  I already have purchased the computer.  A small notebook for $460 and will be sending it shortly.  We have garnered commitments of $2020, thus far towards our goals.  That means we need $1580, or to get as close as possible to that figure.  Please consider donating.  You can find a donation link on this website to the right, or contact us at walkinglion.org@gmail.com. Obviously, we do not have a large list of people to ask, but this is also not a large sum of money.  Any level of donation would be greatly appreciated, we have received pledges/donations from $20 to $500.  

All of this donated money will be used to build this office. An office and community space does is allow our local team to get to work.  It is not a hand out, simply a tool to allow both them and the community to make things happen for themselves. I have bought the computer on my own, and will not take anything from these donations.  Every cent goes to the Sierra Leone project or the cost of wiring the money there.  If we receive anything extra, it will go directly to our next project there.  So don't worry about giving too much!  ;)  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


So I suppose an update is well past due.  So here it is: I spend all my time reading and writing these days.  All of it, really, and writing a blog post seems so incredibly foreign right now, inconceivable even.  So hopefully I'll keep it short.

Again, basically, all I do is read, write, and occasionally think.  I work seven days a week, I read probably 6-14 hours a day, and have three classes I am attending.  I truly love it, while at the same time struggle horribly with it daily.

Hmm...  keep it short, as I start writing there are so many things that have happened in the last six months.  If I actually want to engage with them it would take countless posts.  Posts I don't have time for, but maybe should make time for.  A PhD program is tough, real tough.  Not because you are reading all the time, but because you are NEVER done.  There is always something more that you could or should be doing.  More books, more sources, more grant applications, whatever.

Academically, I feel like I am working through some things and finding a bit of a groove, yet socially it has been a true challenge.  A PhD is a very isolating experience, especially in a new place where you are not the average sort.  Couple that with a death in the family, getting hit by a car on my bicycle (again), and some truly horrible soul crushing social scenarios (for another day) and it was a struggle.  Still, I came out of it with two A's and a B+ in classes that didn't really inspire me.  However, that B+ is apparently enough to get me a warning: one more and I could be on academic review.  There are however stories behind that to tell, another post perhaps.  No matter, I am still here, dyslexic football playing white guy, I am still here.  I've gotten help with the dyslexia that has proven a game changer, even if not getting the support I feel I should.  it is the football playing white guy I seem to still need to get soem help with.  But so be it.  I will keep plugging away.  My health has waned at times, but nothing too serious, again, I'm still fighting the good fight.

So there you have it, I've written something, yet said nothing really!! ;)  I'm wholly consumed by my life and work right now.  But so is life.  I have a roof over my head, food on my table, and purpose.  I'll take that.