After 8 years of living the hipster lifestyle in what I've
come to think of as the center of the universe, New York
City, and working in various media and for various social
causes, I have decided to leave the slickness, irony, and
most of my accessories behind.
with an upstart NGO based in Canada that specializes in
child development through sport and play, I have accepted
a position in Freetown, Sierra Leone for one year.
the way I will meet interesting characters looking for some
love and understanding (see Personals),
I will come across some wise folk who can help you out with
your troubles (see Advice
and feel free to write in), and I will probably meet some
people who are a bit confused about the Western world and
could benefit from your help (see Questions
for Americans). Don't hesitate to consult the Krio-to-English
dictionary when you need some help with the local lingua
hope you enjoy this site as much as I'm bound to enjoy my
journey into what the UN has deemed "the worst country
on earth." It's going to be a wild ride.
Vanessa Wruble, Febuary 8, 2004
ABOUT SIERRA LEONE
the U.S. Department of State:
Sierra Leone is a developing country in western Africa that
is emerging from a ten-year civil war. English is the official
language, but Krio, an English-based dialect, is widely
used. Tourist facilities in the capital, Freetown, are limited;
elsewhere, they are primitive or non-existent.The airport
is located across a large body of water from Freetown. Helicopters
and ferries are available in connection with most major
regional flights to transport passengers to the capital.
However, due to concerns about safety and maintenance of
the helicopters, United States Government employees are
currently authorized to use only the Pan African Helicopter
Service and the ferry service.
Security in Sierra Leone has improved significantly in the
past year. The nationwide state of emergency and curfew
have been lifted. In January 2002, disarmament by the Revolutionary
United Front (RUF) and Civil Defense Force (CDF) was declared
complete. Government forces have deployed around the country,
including into areas previously held by the RUF, and the
behavior of both the police and army has improved markedly
following extensive international training efforts. However,
government forces do not yet exercise complete authority.
A large contingent of peacekeepers of the United Nations
Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) assists the government
in providing security. Peaceful, successful, nationwide
elections were held in May 2002.
Medical facilities fall critically short of U.S. standards.
Persons with medical conditions that may require treatment
or medications are discouraged from traveling to Sierra
Leone. Medicines are in short supply, sterility of equipment
is questionable, and treatment is unreliable. Many primary
health care workers, especially in rural areas, lack professional
training. Instances of misdiagnosis, improper treatment
and administration of improper drugs have been reported.
SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance:Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance:Poor
Sierra Leone is effectively a cash-only economy. Very few
facilities accept credit cards, and there is a serious risk
that using a card will lead to the number being stolen for
use in fraudulent transactions. There are no ATM machines
connected to international networks. Travelers checks are
not easy to cash and are not usually accepted as payment.
Currency exchanges should be handled through a bank or established
foreign exchange bureau. Exchanging money with street vendors
is risky. Criminals may "mark" such people for
future attack and there is a risk of being provided counterfeit
have been, in the eight years since I graduated college,
a documentary filmmaker, a student
of interactive media and social networks, a world traveler,
a producer at a think
tank, an events organizer, a social
activist, a freelance writer,
Man arts festival enthusiast, and an artist.
can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
does one get in contact with someone in Sierra Leone?
there is no mail. You will have to contact Vanessa via
e-mail, which she will read when the electricity is on
and the phone lines are working.
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