…a packrafting journey into the heart of Sierra Leone and Liberia's Peace Park…supported by the RGS Journey of a Lifetime grant

Street Child of Sierra Leone

street child

A very quick post because things are getting unbelievably serious in base camp Downham Market – I’m as yet uninsured, my radio kit is still in a London basement, I have no boots, nor do I have a functioning satellite phone, and, quite frankly, my bedroom looks like someone just set off a bomb in a branch of Millets. What I do have however is a ticket on Brussels Air to Freetown Sierra Leone in precisely two weeks time.

Right now I need to crank things up to what my twin sister likes to call: ‘stress level 11’.

It’s alright though. I’m very experienced at conjuring relative expeditionary organisation from blind panic. Things are always alright in the end and boots are for pussys right?

Last week I broke off my whirlwind schedule of sorting out visas and meeting up with kit partners to pop into the offices of Street Child of Sierra Leone. A great bunch of guys and a truly inspiring charity. I had originally made an inquiry about chasing up a story about the Sierra Leone Marathon, their big fundraiser, which happens to fall two days before I am due to fly home at the end of May up in the rural north of the country. I ended up captivated by their story; from their early days establishing a community initiative to aid street children around the town of Makeni through to their countrywide spread that helps over 2,000 street children today. They asked if I was raising any money for charity through my descent, I replied sheepishly that it was mostly a selfish endeavour and asked if they wouldn’t mind working together.

Peacetime Sierra Leone remains one of the world’s poorest countries. Many children have lost contact with their families as a result of the civil war and today over 50,000 children are reliant on the street with almost 3,000 sleeping rough in appalling and extremely dangerous conditions.

Street Child aims to reunite these children with their families and get them back in full-time education through a process of counseling and providing occasional food, clothing, medical care and a safe place to visit away from the streets. They also work closely with the community, employing and training local people to create the best possible environment into which the child can be reintroduced. Alongside reunification, Street Child funds all school materials and educational costs for each child as well as arranging remedial school courses to ensure that they are fully prepared for their first year back at school.

‘Always remember there is someone in life who is much worse off than you.’ One of the many mantras I have in my arsenal when I’m feeling a little too sorry for myself on expeditions, and believe me, in a couple more weeks I’ll be feeling very sorry for myself. This will be the first time I have ever attached one of my projects to a charity and it would mean a lot to me if you can give a little of your money to the Just Giving page below. It’ll give me a massive boost on the river and will, without question, go a very long way to aiding this brilliant charity in their vital work.

For everyone who donates £5 or more I’ll take a picture of a West African animal for you and then tag you in it on facebook or send it to your mailbox. Who knows, I may yet even haul my broken body through the Sierra Leone marathon at the end of this all. If I ever get my shoes.

Here’s the Just Giving page: http://www.justgiving.com/downstreamchimp Please just give.

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