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Shauna Bowers: walking along Lumley beach, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Student Scheme recipient Shauna Bowers was funded to travel to Sierra Leone and report on the aftermath of a massive mudslide that hit the capital of Sierra Leone in 2017. In the second of two blog posts from her trip, Shauna offers further insight into her experience of the Sierra Leone capital. You can read Shauna’s first post here

Walking along Lumley beach is a busy affair, especially in the evening. Young boys play football, young men go fishing and families relax in the humid weather.

As I strolled down the beach on my way to get some dinner from a local Italian restaurant, an eight-year-old boy ran up to me. He grabbed onto my leg and wouldn’t let go.

“Please help me ma’am,” he cried out over and over again. His parents were about 20 feet away, staring at me.

He just kept repeating that they needed help, they needed money.

“Please ma’am. We have no money. We need money. We need help.”

This situation happened several times. The poverty in Sierra Lone is a visual thing. As a young, white woman, I attracted a lot of attention. Most of the time, all they wanted was help. They wouldn’t leave unless you handed them some money.

People in Salone try everything they can to earn a living. For people who cannot afford to set up their own stores, they walk around with buckets on their head selling everything from drinks, tissues to nuts.

If they spot someone who is obviously an international, they will stand outside the window of your car, begging you to buy something.

Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone, currently houses far more people than it is equipped to deal with. While living near a city has its advantages, it also has some negatives.

You have so many people vying for such few jobs, houses and food. Despite that, or perhaps because of that, people flock to Freetown and look to the town with awe.

“Living in Freetown is hard but it is great,” said Ibrahim Kabia when asked why he moved to Freetown with his family. “Civilisation is so different here. Even if there aren’t enough jobs or money, there are so many people.”

“You start to make your own family with the people of Freetown who are experiencing the same struggles you are.”