When my friend Tamara Eelsing sent me pictures of her trip to Sierra Leone, this image struck me straight away. The kids stand there, apparently so "at ease" in a place they shouldn't even be in, in the first place: too dangerous and too unhygienic.
Tamara took this picture in Kroo Bay, the poorest Shanti town of Freetown, Sierra Leone. And although Sierra Leone has reestablished a functioning democracy since the end of the Civil War in 2002, the country is still at the bottom of the United Nations Poverty list. With a 45% chance to die before you reach the age of 40 (I promise I will NEVER again complain about turning 40!!) and 75% of the population has to survive on an income below the poverty line ($2 a day! I also promise my kids will never complain again about their pocket money of £2 !), it is hard to realise that these kids belong to the poorest group in the poorest country in the world.
The picture was taken in Kroo Bay on a spot (yes, that dump place) where 9000 people live close to the sea. As most basic infrastructures, like electricity and garbage collection, is not available everyone dumps their waste at this "empty" spot in town, which happens to be the house of the kids on the picture....
Tamara told me that although the situation of these children is extremely harsh and she wondered how they managed to stay alive in such an unhygienic place, the kids were very happy, friendly and full of plans for the future. As Tamara said about the picture: "They are facing forward, towards the ocean, pretty and full of ideas. They are not facing the poor conditions they are in now. They appear to leave that behind them."
If you would like to see more pictures of Tamara or get more information about her trip to Sierra Leone, drop me an email. I will get you in touch with her.
One of my favorite charities, Save the Children, has started a campaign to improve the basic life conditions of the people in Kroo Bay. On their site you can see videos of Kroo Bay and how life without electricity or clean water looks like. Not very pretty... But more importantly, you can see what we can do to help those kids change their life!