Breaking Rocks in Sierra Leone

The Long Road

This morning I woke up to a rare non-rainy August morning in Freetown.  Saturday!  So I grabbed my quadcopter and my camera and headed out to one of the highest-rated local beaches, River No. 2 Beach, where the local community has collaborated to create a nice spot frequented by locals and foreigners alike.  After an hour-long, bone-jarring ride, I arrived, checked out the area, showed the locals the quadcopter and flew it over the pristine natural beauty of the area, and snapped a bunch of pictures.

No. 2 River, Sierra Leone

No. 2 River, Sierra Leone

Then I realized that, for the millionth time, I had not switched on the camera on the ‘copter, and to add to my disappointment, the SD card in my other camera was corrupted (and later proved unrecoverable).  So other than the short clip below, what you’re seeing in this post is other people’s pictures of the places I saw.

If you’re interested in what I saw along the way, check out this guy’s blog.  Pretty much the first third covers it.  But like an episode of the Simpsons, my blog post today starts with one thing and ends up someplace completely different.

The thing is, all along the “peninsular highway,” much like the rest of the hills surrounding Freetown, are large homes in a semi-constructed state.  My driver explained that people basically build as they get funds.  Many of the half-constructed houses have moss growing on the walls – interior as well as exterior.  Along the peninsular highway, this is much more evident, kind of ramshackle and uncontrolled.  It’s a beautiful view, and the logical place for Freetown’s wealthier folks to settle, once the road gets paved.  Prior to the current ebola outbreak, Sierra Leone had one of the highest growth rates in the world – chugging along at near 14%!  And the construction I saw everywhere – even if often paused in mid-build – made this obvious.

All this growth has a dark side, however.  Amid all of the half-constructed mini-mansions and beach houses are a ramshackle of improvised housing of wooden poles, discarded boards, and ribbed sheet metal.  These are families who have moved out here searching for work.  and work there is – building, and all of the work that this supports, such as people selling drinks and snacks to construction workers.  Unfortunately, there’s also this:

Kick Out Poverty

I see this wherever I go in and around Freetown, and it’s heartbreaking to see kids (and adults) carrying heavy rocks in the rain, and then sit all day smashing them with a hammer.  You can read more about this problem in this excellent article in the Atlantic.  I don’t really know what can be done to fix it.  I just wanted to share; maybe someone else has some ideas.

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One Response to Breaking Rocks in Sierra Leone

  1. Theresia Brouns says:

    It is like coal mining in Holland where kids started at age 14…because there was nothing else. Child labor is much worse there of course, but the adults aren’t having such a great life either.
    I don’t suppose things will change until their govt. focuses totally on the people and economy. In some places that’s hard to do even when intentions are good. Add to that illiteracy and handed down superstitions and it becomes insurmountable or at least seems that way.

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