Freetown, Sierra Leone - 25th April 2019

Greetings from Sierra Leone. Amii, Juliet and I arrived safely in Freetown 2 days ago.

As I lie in bed - it’s 5am, 2 women are labouring on the veranda below, a rhythmic howling interspersed with the call to prayer from the local mosque.

From our chats and observations so far, things are worse than normal here. There is a critical drought after the failure of the rains last season. The dam that supplies the city is expected to run dry in the next month. The Aberdeen Women's Centre are suffering too as their tanks are all but dry. Happily, the government installed a bore here for them earlier this year but the water runs dry each day after 15 minutes of use.

We met Morlai last night who is here for a few weeks. As always, he knows exactly what is going on - he had just come from a catch up with his old school friend, now the Minister of Information, and shared his thoughts generously.  The economy is in poor shape with urban youth unemployment running at an estimated 65%. Inflation sky high - no one seems to know. We bought loads of beautiful fabric, cost us over half a million leones, or $60.

We met with the Dream Team yesterday, here for their weekly antenatal class. They spend 3 hours together in their new purpose-built classroom - basic but spacious. They were hand sewing baby clothes when we arrived, having had 2 hours of birthing classes, some schooling and a good lunch.

We are off to the slums today on a nationally coordinated antimalarial campaign for World Malaria Day. We look forward to keeping you updated through the rest of our trip here.

Penny Gerstle

Chair of the Aminata Maternal Foundation

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