We left Makeni to travel further north to Kamakwei. We would be spending the week visiting projects funded by CAFOD through Caritas Makeni.
The journey to Kamakwei was a roller coaster of a ride, mainly due to massive dips and rises in the road. Although in theory two way traffic, everyone takes the least bumpy ride – often in the middle of the road. We did have to get out of the car at one stage as the bridge over the river was very narrow and it was thought best we walked over and the driver took the car over the bridge! Traffic is light and we travel through many communities along the way.
After several hours throough lush countryside – palm trees and banana plants (great excitement when we saw our first hand of bananas and the massive fruit hanging from a tree!) spread for miles. Bush fires are a problem and we often came across blackened area of bush still smouldering. This is an area Caritas Makeni is addressing with local communities. Communities farm the land for their food and fire can easily destroy a season’s crops which in communities barely growing enough to sustain them between harvests is a real disaster.
We finally arrived at Bush House – a local guest house in Kamakwei. A lovely setting with views all around, we were delighted to find showers and toilets, although we only had electricity for two hours a day. This came from a generator and operated between 7pm-9pm.
The first morning of our trip, we made a courtesy visit to the Paramount Chief, Kandeh Lusenie III. Sitting under the thatched roof of the community meeting space we were introduced and welcomed. We each had to say a little about ourselves and why we were visiting Kamakwei.
We then set off to visit the first CAFOD/Caritas Makeni project, Gbabeh Fullah. This is a Disaster Risk Reduction project where the community has been provided with seedlings, cashew nuts, seed rice, groundnuts and assorted vegetables. There has been training on conflict resolution between the cattle rearers and the agricutural community. Previously the animals would be left to roam and often destroy the crops the community had planted. They now graze their animals away from the planted areas.
As well has visiting Gbaheh Fullah, we heard from community leaders from Rokaba, and their chairman, Saidu said:
“Thank God, CAFOD and Caritas. We have avoided disaster and bought sanity. We are happy. We own the project but thank you for bringing the project to us. Four activities very important. Cassava, seed rice, cashew nuts and ground nuts. We can take care of our children and our homes. There is not much hunger now and no fear for our children going to school. Area was neglected before and after the war, only CAFOD and Caritas came to us. Whatever good comes later, Caritas came first.”
We visited several other communities during our week in Kamakwei – more to follow.