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The International Writers Magazine: Sierra Lone

Sierra Lone Street Kids
• Lucy Munday
On May 26th 2013, Street Child of Sierra Leone hosted its’ second marathon. After the civil war ended in 2002, Street Child founder Tom Dannat, began helping orphaned and homeless children in Makeni, most of whom had been child soldiers and sex slaves directly during the civil war. The charity spread its’ over the coming years to see many of the beneficiaries turn their lives around and head for success.

Photo 1: During the post-race festival held for locals, beneficiaries and runners, boys pose for the camera at Makeni stadium. The photo was taken while local boys, volunteers and runners played a game of football in a storm.

Most children living on the streets in Sierra Leone now, are there as a direct result of relying on extended family who don’t have the money to help. Many turn to the streets after running away from home, a far cry from former causes, however still indicative of a country in repair after years of brutality and internal fighting. The charity continues to work towards getting children off the streets, back with their families and in to schools.

Amputees As with last year, the marathon proved a great success, raising over £200, 000.00 ($298,000.015 USD) from sponsors such as African Minerals and international runners combined. Volunteers managed to persuade the President to run in the 5KM race and he opened the Marathon with the countdown and a speech. Locals, expats and international visitors ran together alike for this common cause. On behalf of Street Child I was able to go to Sierra Leone and document the event and everyday life.  It was a truly remarkable and eye-opening experience, both culturally and as an event, neither which I had ever known anything similar.

Photo 2: Amputee football players from the Sierra Leone National Team, line up at the start for the 5km race.

The marathon was such a heart warming event, the whole trip peppered with moments of true poignancy; I started my volunteer experience by contributing a couple of days a week in the street child London office but I was scarcely prepared for what awaited me in country.It takes so much work, dedication, passion, time and community input to 'solve' these kinds of problems. The only way Sierra Leone can have a happy future is if the kids, who are the prospective rulers, workers and parents, are helped with opportunities. For the street children it’s the opportunity to turn their lives around by getting an education and a place to call home, and in doing so turn around the future of the country. If they don't have guidance from parents, guardians, friends, teachers or anyone, how will they turn out?

Lucy Munday Three children look in to a classroom, a place they are too poor to join.
Children comfort their sibling while playing in the streets of slums with whatever items they can find as tools and here as a trailer. Lucy Munday
Sleeping kid A place to rest. On reconnaissance with social workers at night I spotted this child sleeping under a shop front for the night.
Children walk home from school across a football pitch in the middle of a slum in Freetown. When the rains come, street children gather on the pitch to shower in the storms. Lucymunday
Lucymunday The marathon starts at 6am due to the heat. Sierra Leone is about the size of Wales, and rests on the horn of Africa, just above the equator. Most days the temperature gets up to about 30 deg C (86 deg F) with around 95% humidity.
As I took photos of the surrounding scenery, this little girl began to follow me follow me down the road, obviously curious as to what I was doing. Children and people alike in Sierra Leone love having their photo taken. ‘Snap me!’ is a common shout if you are spotted with a camera. I asked her if she wanted me to take her photo and she simply nodded her head. lucymunday
lucymunday Camped at the finish line I noticed these two runners about to cross the line together. At 100m to go they began to race each other, it was a lovely moment to capture.
Marathon winner Chris Johnson, 21, of Freetown crosses the finish line in 02hrs 49mins and 07 secs. Johnson had been neck and neck with his ‘Fashpacker’ team mate and last year’s winner Idrissa Kargbo, who came in second this year. lucymunday10
Freetown View over Freetown. Despite the tragic history of the country, this place has a lot of natural beauty to offer up.

Below view over a Freetown slum, let’s not forget why we were there.
Below Boys fight to be photographed at the post race festival. I cut off the top of his head by accident, but I feel it brings tension to the image as the viewer focuses on their smiles and body language.

© lucy munday July 2013

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