During my May visit Maggie’s wards, Fatmata (girl, 10 years old) and Alusine (boy, 13 years old) joined a new Scout troupe in Lewabu, the neighbouring village to the school (Mendewa) and where we live, about a ten minute walk. The first weeks training was a Friday and Saturday, 4 o’clock until 7pm and then every night the following week, except Thursday.
I went down to watch them on their second day. Boys and girls organised into two different groups more or less by size and age. They were taught the basic march, salutes and turns. The children loved it. The motto – ‘A scout is not a fool’!!
The senior man at that meeting was a doctor from Bo Hospital (Ophthalmologist), he’d been sponsored during his Scouting career to visit Canada and I believe he had also received help and encouragement with his career training. His co-helpers, Samuel Musa, Idrissa Bangora & Alusine Kamara were local volunteers and full of enthusiasm.
The children all had to pay 2,000 Leones to join, the equivalent of 30p. This is not an easy amount of money for parents to suddenly find as extras, earnings in the region of a £1+/day. There was a parents meeting on the second Saturday where the costs of joining were more fully explained, the cost of purchasing a uniform was of real concern.
Meetings in future will be Monday, Wednesday & Friday, 4-6pm. Monday & Friday drill, with Wednesday for studying – signs, symbols and written work. I understand this continues during school holiday time.
They must have a uniform and an ID card. The uniform is a Forest Green poplin shirt with two large patch pockets and blue/black shorts or skirt below the knee, again with two patch pockets, this time to the rear. They must also have long blue/black socks, black shoes and a muffler which reflects their school colours. The muffler is what we would call a neckerchief.
The cost of the uniform will be in the region of Le 90,000 (Approx. £13.00) – Le 30,000 for the material, Le 35,000 for the muffler & toggle, Le 25,000 for tailoring. There’s also an ID Card, Le 3,500 (£0.50), socks & writing materials to be purchased. This represents a huge monetary outlay, more or less by comparison, the cost of one full years basic school fee at Secondary School (Le 75,000/£11).
The Scouts are hoping that each school in the Lewabu/Medewa area will have its own Scout group. OAKS has been approached. Our teacher Francis Rogers is very keen to take this on board as his new project, to add to his ‘Kids Rights Focus Club’, which meets after school. It would be great if we could twin with a couple of Scout groups at home.
Francis and our caretaker Alpha, who have both been in the Scouts, think they will form a Scout troupe in September. Starting small with about 20 pupils, perhaps 10 boys and 10 girls. Maybe this number will grow as they become an established pack.
I was surprised that Scouts and Girl Guides have been in Sierra Leone for more than 100 years. The two merging in the 1960’s.
The group had a meeting at OAKS on my last night. They’d written out their oath & were reciting it.
It would wonderful if we could encourage links between UK Scout Associations & OAKS Scout group. Obviously sponsorship for OAKS Scouts would be great, we operate in an extremely poor community. Please do contact us if you’d like more information.
5th Birkenhead Scouts
The Ebola crisis has obviously altered all our plans. As soon as school reconvenes we will discuss the formation of a scout troupe.