In Kortor we started with a meeting with the elders, extension workers and selected individuals from the community. The vehicles were parked under some trees and we were guided through the houses to a large spreading tree. From every angle, people brought out seating – long planked benches, plastic moulded chairs, stools, wooden chairs, armchairs – and placed it around the tree. The morning life of the village was going on around us, cleaning the breakfast dishes, some washing, changing babies, a little purchasing in the one or two stalls established in people’s houses, and some coming and going to the surrounding area to farm or collect firewood. Almost every house had a goat tied up either on their veranda or next to the house. We were watched intently by all, especially by the children with nothing much else to do and to whom a white man was, while not a novelty, certainly a rarity. Over the visits to Sierra Leone I was forever being shouted at by children as we drove through villages “foute foute foute”. The grown kids would do it immediately, the smaller ones would be encouraged by their older siblings or mothers or grandmothers. It was a game and all it meant was “white man”.
The elders and the local chief approached and we greeted them; Momoh said a Christian prayer, the local Imam offered blessings and the chief said a few words. The secretary of the village – like the Parish clerk in the UK I suppose, helped to translate and embellish the comments that whatever we were here to do, the chief would give us every consideration. I kept quiet as I was still so new on the project but the chief recognised Annie and Stephanie from their previous visits and they gave some background on where the project had got to and what plans we had and what we wanted to do today.