Remember Michael...the young man who made baskets to sell for a week after the theft of his shoes (as you can't go to school in bare feet)? He stopped by to visit this evening and told me of his dreams and current life. Michael is in grade eight and has big plans. He and his family (Dad and sister) have been asked to move out of the house where they have been staying since their house collapsed two years ago. He has already picked out the land where he will build the grass (thatched) house for his family. He told me about the new farm land he and his dad will be planting with rice and cassava this year...and proudly told me of the palm tree seedlings he planted there this past year. Michael sometimes receives gifts from a friend in Canada and in a Christmas box of clothes found that the shoes enclosed were too small. No problem, he said. If you have too much, you should give to someone else...it's not right to keep for yourself things you don't need...and the blind woman next door now sports Michael's new shoes. As I mentally counted the number of shoes I have just in this room, I squirmed somewhat and thought that I have a lot to learn from the wisdom of youth.
Just back from my first visit to the library and, like Michael, have a head full of ideas and dreams. School ended early today and seeing the library open, several young girls from the somewhat distant village of Makambray dropped by. While I sorted through boxes and files preparing for a teacher' literacy workshop tomorrow, the girls sat deeply immersed in books. Like Michael and the young women now volunteer teaching at several of the community schools, the Makambray girls and countless others give me great hope for the future...and the library, reaching out to students and teachers in smaller villages has a key role to play in this future. As our peace education project wraps up at the end of this month, my dream is to be able to support in some small way the literacy aspirations of people in the chiefdom. I very much look forward to putting heads together with the teachers tomorrow to see what we can learn and share with each other. Brief conversations this morning have already led to a plan to create rotating collections of teaching resources made from local materials based on what we collectively know about teaching and learning and the local context.
Themes for this year's visit to Sierra Leone? Literacy and agriculture, two lifetime areas of interest and passion.
If I could upload photos, I would post one of the four small boys creating yet another amazing toy from local found materials.