A day in the life of...Alusine Kargbo

17th January 2014 at 00:00
In between charity commitments and chiefdom meetings, this reverend in Sierra Leone teaches religious studies in a junior school. But classes of up to 74 students can be quite a challenge

The beeping of my phone alarm wakes me at 4am and I get up, trying not to wake my wife. For me this is my time to pray and to work, and to think in peace.

I believe in a regimented life to get things done. I pray to the Almighty to give me strength to do what has to be done to protect my family and the people of Kamakwie - the town where I live - and to help us to help ourselves. This I do at my study table in the bedroom. After 30 minutes of prayer I read the Bible or do some written work. At 5am I go and wash in the compound and dress for the day. This time of year, when the harmattan wind blows, it is cold and the water energises you with its freshness, even though the dawn has not yet broken.

After a morning prayer meeting and breakfast, at 7.15am I head to work at the Kamakwie Wesleyan Junior and Secondary School to take morning devotion at 7.30am. Lessons start at 8am and the classes are always full. I teach religious studies and Limba, the local language of the chiefdom. It is a busy time but I do enjoy teaching. The classes last 35 minutes and can be difficult because there are a lot of students in each one. My smallest class has 45 students but my largest has 74. At times it is hard to keep their attention but I do not believe in corporal punishment.

Facilities at the school are good compared with some in the area, as we have solid buildings and some solar power for lighting, but we are constantly trying to improve things further.

Lunch is at noon and consists of groundnuts or local cakes, which I eat with the children. By 12.50pm junior school is over and my teaching duties have finished for the day. The secondary classes then begin in the afternoon in the same classrooms. I return home for a short rest until 2pm. My house and compound are usually busy so I often sit in a chair inside, just to relax for a while. At times I do fall asleep.

My afternoons are generally filled with meetings related to school but also church matters and chiefdom issues. Today I have a meeting with the chairman of Sella Community Development Project. We set this up in 2008 to help develop the chiefdom. It started with a women's microcredit scheme and today we are discussing a recent initiative concerning breeding goats to pay for children's education.

The committee members are two Christians and two Muslims. My friend from the UK, Richard Meads, is chairman. He is managing director of Leone Resources, a large farming business. His company helps our community with many projects. He has formed links for us with schools in England, including Wellington School in Somerset, and we are always looking for more connections like this. As a result we have had a number of young UK teachers come over here to teach during their holidays.

At 3.30pm I meet with the elders to discuss other chiefdom matters and any issues that the people are grumbling about. By 5pm the meeting is over and I eat with my family. After that I try to stay in my compound as people come to visit me, or I may go and visit a parishioner who is ill. At 8pm I begin to prepare my lesson plans and all the other things I need to do for the next day. I try to make time to read novels or the Bible before going to bed, usually at about 11pm.

I love what I do and I try to enjoy every day. I am dedicated to the Almighty and ask for strength and help often. I am lucky with my job because it gives me time to do so many things and work with so many people.

Your day

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