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With Love, From Sierra Leone

Kathy Juana

Posted on January 09 2019

 
And I’m back, physically but not mentally. Every two years or so I pack up my two suitcases, this year three and head home to Bonthe, Sierra Leone. This year wasn’t really different than any other year, I still had things to accomplish and as always wanted to learn how I can contribute to the young girls and boys in my community in Bonthe. Since my last visit leadership in the country has changed and seems to be heading in a positive direction. The country has elected a new president, President Julius Maada Bio and since he’s been in office things are moving and shaking for the better.

 

 mission lane tote bonthe sierra leone

kathy juana aiyegbo mission lane bonthe island sierra leone

Besides having to spend time with my grandma Alta, who is 98 years young and still got it!. Try pulling anything past her, just try. I had to work on new ideas for our Exclusively Ours Collection, work with my grandma and my faithful friend Emmanual in deciding on a scholarship recipient for this years Alta E. Lawrence Scholarship, and last but not least distribute the amazing products donated to us from Smooth & Shine and Tone! I know this sounds like a lot, but I got my rest in as well.

kathy juana aiyegbo mission lane bonthe island sierra leone tone body care and smooth and shine hair products

 mission lane sierra leone president in bonthe
With the president in town this had to be the most people I’ve ever seen in Bonthe since my mom started taking my sister and I there when I was 9 and my sister 5. With the war in 1991 that lasted 10 years and many corrupt leaders since then, Bonthe was disowned and left to deteriorate. People fled, homes abandoned,paved roads were now sandy pathways , banks, post offices, and opportunities for those in the island gone. With all that being said President Bio has a lot of things on his agenda and with his leadership I am hopeful that Bonthe and the rest of Sierra Leone will get back on track.
kathy juana aiyegbo mission lane bonthe island sierra leone 
 Although I was pretty productive in Sierra Leone, this visit felt like I belonged there. Not saying that I wasn’t welcomed any other time, but besides my family and friends being their and as always making me feel welcome, I felt at home and at peace. I remember coming straight into the house greeting my grandma (so happy to see her happy and healthy) I sat on the couch took off my shoes and seriously sat there in astonishment, like 4 days later we are finally here! I started hearing everyone say my name and surprisingly I remembered all their names. Took a shower (bucket bath) and started visiting our neighbors.
kathy juana aiyegbo mission lane bonthe island sierra leone 
With the President in town there were so many activities to attend, our house as always was full with guest and the little kids from Mission Lane, playing music, dancing, and drinking, it felt so good to be disconnected from our phones and enjoying life.
 kathy juana aiyegbo mission lane bonthe island sierra leone
Christmas is a huge celebration in Bonthe, there aren’t any Christmas trees decorated with lights or tons of gifts under it nor are there displays with reindeer or mangers. You will see people ecstatic about life & the holiday. If you were a outsider looking in you would probably think “ what are these people celebrating?”, “why are they so excited? I don’t see any gifts or table loaded with food?.” Trust me my first visit as a child I thought the same thing, but besides everyone going around saying “my Christmas depends on you” they are just grateful for what they have and the enjoyment of the day. Everyone is dressed up and in a festive mood!
 kathy juana aiyegbo mission lane bonthe island sierra leone
Mission Lane Divas

kathy juana aiyegbo mission lane bonthe island sierra leone

The one thing about being away and disconnected from your phone, television and Instagram( I was really curios is Cardi B and Offset reconcile), is that you really take the time to look around and see what really matters and how people make a living without all the luxuries we have in the states. There’s no electricity, no running water, if you need water it comes from the well, which has to be drawn daily. I even attempted to bake a cake with some friends without an oven, it was such a cool experience, and the cake was yummy! Children are playing with each other and not on their iPad or video game, they are creative with what they have available to them.
 kathy juana aiyegbo mission lane bonthe island sierra leone red velvet cake
Making a red velvet cake without no oven. Add coal to the top of the pot to bake the top of the cake. kathy juana aiyegbo mission lane bonthe island sierra leone
It was hard coming back. I always say I won’t cry, but I don’t even know why I lie. I cry every time at the thought of leaving my family & friends and especially at leaving my grandma because I never know if this will be my last time seeing her. God willing it won’t be.
 kathy juana aiyegbo mission lane bonthe island sierra leone Alta E. Lawrence 
Did I mention that my grandma is the oldest person on Bonthe Island..

kathy juana aiyegbo mission lane bonthe island sierra leone

So 2019 started with me leaving Bonthe with my heart filled and mind running with so many ideas and excitement on how everything will be executed to not only benefit Mission Lane but those in need.
 
xoxo,
Kathy 
 
 

1 comment

  • Shinese: February 22, 2019

    Thanks for sharing your trip, and story it is beautiful. Blessings to your mission, and your grandmother!

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