Ahkom School Update

Hello All.

Yes it has been a busy few weeks in Sierra Leone preparing the groundwork for the Right To Read project; commencing urgent rehabilitation work at Ahkom school; meeting school and ancillary staff; preparing to commence nursery and primary class 1; fighting off a determined ill motivated malaria-like flu; trying to persuade a suspicious Rover, my loving ageing dog, to subject its fleece to a good dose of anti-mite powder: but as God always wills we all live to fight another day.

The much needed school toilet extension is under way – the existing 3 were just too few to accommodate staff and M/F pupils. We’re adding a further 3. With the tec voc and primary moving in shortly we shall require additional toilets. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

The £310 helped towards 3 of the required 6 double metal doors which cost around le800,000 apiece. That’s about £110 because the bank transfers change at a rate of about £1 to le7,000 – 7,100. Most other outlets change from 7,800 – 8,000/ £1. I actually lost £300 worth of possible in come from the RTR money which knocked holes in my budget calculations, (but nothing I can’t deal with), because the exchange rate was so low. Yet I suppose that’s a price worth paying for a good service.

We actually left with 3 doors and 6 windows to find. The window openings are 4 glass sizes which cost around Le400,000 each. The total required to round off doors and windows will be around £500 + including window panes, winches, putty, workmanship etc. But its worth it.

We’re currently paying through our nose for 2 rented structures in town when we have our own structure standing there waiting to be utilised. That rent money can be put to so many other uses.

I still appeal to anyone who has anyone to help us get our perimeter fence in place. You remember the song: I have a friend who has friends by the river; we too have friends who have friends by the road? Well if you even have some Martian friends out in space please put our plight to them. The Ahkom land is almost 2 acres in size and at current prices will require around £2,900 – £3,000 to get pillars in place, start ground cementing and (can’t remember the other names – we’ll have to get Richard to tell us what the remaining procedures are called!)

On my return I discovered 2 hopeful land grabbers had begun laying house foundations towards the further reaches within our school land. They’d vociferously contended it was theirs and were ready to engage in fisticuffs if necessary to defend their encroachment. Now at Ahkom we make peace not war; so my staff, (creditably endowed with more brain than brawn unlike their hefty pump iron aggressors), took the sensible option to follow the law and bombard the arthritic local chiefdom administration with complaints which brought about a stay of any furthering of the illegal construction activity. I have since, on my return, managed to kick the encroachers into touch.

Sheep and goats indiscriminately released onto the land have put paid to most of the decorative plants, procured at a good cost, we’d battled to plant during the last rains. Zinc is missing from the roof of the big cement structure built previous to the tec voc one; there are cracked window panes on our temporary admin block and the main building (probably kids playing football or throwing stones on the premises); thrash and graffiti and a host of other things an unsmiling perimeter fence would prevent!

God bless

David

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