We have an expression in Sierra Leone: "One finger cannot lift a bottle." What we mean by this is that we need community; we need each other to get where we need to go. You need at least two fingers to lift a bottle! Our resort cannot develop without cooperation and collaboration. We work hard to coordinate with NGOs, the National Tourist Board and within our community to improve what we can offer to you, our guest.
2011 was a great year for us. We were generously assisted by Energy for Opportunity and Welthungerhilfe, two NGOs that helped us to realise our long-time dream of equipping our bungalows with solar power.
We are a professional resort. We do not ask or expect our guests to donate. Your greatest contribution to our betterment is your stay with us! We do, however, often have guests who ask if there is any way for them to help us move forward. For that reason we share some of our goals and initiatives with you below. If you want to help us "lift our bottle," read below to see which bottles we're trying to lift!
At the start of every new tourist season, we embark on new improvements to both our resort and to the community that supports it...and there is so much more we want to do! If you do want to help, mention that you read about our needs on the website and ask to speak with our director of operations or our president.
Our skills: Our greatest need is hospitality training. We would love to be able to send members of our community to tourism school and business school. We would like to be able to take accounting classes, office administration classes and catering classes. We want to be the best hosts we can be and the best way for us to improve what we offer our guests is for us to improve our education! If you have the heart to send our staff to school, let us know!
Vehicles: We hope to be able to purchase one or two four wheel drive vehicles for collecting our guests and taking our guests on excursions to other places in the area. Having a vehicle in our community also means that we can take the women in our community to the hospital when they are ready to deliver babies. Right now they have to ride on the back of a motorcylce!
Motorboat: A motorised boat (such as a small zodiak) would be extrememly useful to us. Such a craft would be useful for sea rescues (right now we must paddle out to help people in distress) and for taking our guests to and from our larger fishing boats when the water is rough. We could use a motorised boat for river excursions and for jaunts to other neighbouring communities.
Renovations to our bungalows: We are hopeful that as tourism in Sierra Leone revives and increases we can refit our bathrooms with new showerheads, toilets, and sinks. We would also like to add artwork to the rooms. While our rooms are equipped with those things our guests need, we'd love to have new tables, comfortable chairs, plush towels, new sheets, lamps... in fact, if you stay with us and wish something was there, chances are we wish it was there too.
Kitchen: Our kitchen is in serious need of renovation. Believe it or not, we started with a coal pot and the air in our lungs. We now have a kitchen structure, great kitchen staff, apprentices and servers. But cooking in our kitchen remains a challenge. We still cook over a fire with poor quality pots and pans -- which sounds romantic but is time-consuming! Having a great kitchen and great implements in our kitchen would mean having great service.
Cushions for our chairs: Our customers could enjoy watching the waves even more if they were seated on pillows. If you have any ideas for how to make your time on the beach better, let us know. We think that cushions and candles at night would be a great start. We also think that it would be nice to have beach toys available.
Technology: We now have solar power which means we can use electronic devices. We have one computer in our office, but would love to be able to have a small computer lab where we can work on our computer skills. The hard truth is that if you aren't computer literate, it's hard to compete in today's world. We want our children to learn how to use computers! And we want to learn too! Another benefit to having a small computer lab would be that our guests could check their email!
If you have old mobile/cellular phones, they would also be useful to us. Our fisherman can use them when they are out at sea, and many people in our community need them to check on family in the city etc.
Community structures: The mosque in our village is not a testament to our gratitude to God. We would love to rebuild our mosque. We also hope one day to be able to build a community centre and make necessary changes to the nursery school in our village. We have focused so much of our effort on the resort, that we have not been able to construct a mosque and community centre.
Education for our children: Our children are the future of Sierra Leone and they are the future of our community. Every year we struggle to pay their school fees. School fees in Sierra Leone are exhorbitantly high in comparison to wages. If you would like to help us help our children go to school, please talk to us about it. We would love to set up a scholarship program for our keenest and brightest students!
Our health: One of the hard truths about Sierra Leone is that access to healthcare is poor. For most of us, good healthcare is too expensive. Our resort can only fund those in dire need. We would love to have a stock of simple medicines available to our community that we could store on site -- tablets for headaches, good malaria medicine, over the counter antibiotics, cough and cold medicine, immodium and creams for rashes (hydrocortisone, for example). Basically anything your travel doctor advised you to come with would be useful to us! If you would like to donate medicine to the resort, please let us know.
Library: While most of us cannot afford to travel, we can travel through books and dvds. We would love to have a stock of national geographic films and other nature films, picture books about other places in the world and guidebooks to birds and animals. Keep in mind that many of us cannot read and write very well. Picture books and films are a great way for us to explore the world.
It is our plan to develop a library for our guests and for our community. As you may be aware, books and films are hard to come by here in Sierra Leone. There's little selection and they're relatively costly. One of the difficult aspects of poverty in Sierra Leone is that many of our students go to school and end up studying with texts from the 1950s!
We would love to have these available to our community and our guests. If you want to donate, we'd appreciate!
Food: We have a "hungry season" in Sierra Leone. We eat fresh food and during the period of the year where there is little to harvest (June-September), there are days where some of us go without eating. If you want to help us feed our families, donating a bag of rice or two or buying fresh fish from our fishers for our community makes a big difference.You could do this through our headman, or tell the person taking care of your room that you would like to do so.