Abeni Johnson traveled to Sierra Leone in January to provide our first Wellness training, & support Sierra Cares Foundation pictures below for a taste of her experience meeting with local children, trafficking victims Embassy personnel and more! See excerpts from this this letter from her trip Full text of her letter here https://airlineamb.org/sierra-leone-in-january/
Wellness Mission to Makeni Jan 4-10, 2021 Reflection
On Monday, January 4, 2021 John Rich and I arrived at Lungi Airport in Freetown at 2:55 am. We arrived to an awakening Makeni, with children preparing for their school day and mothers preparing breakfast on the firewood. The smell of burning wood and freshly baked bread perfumed the air. The sound of chickens crowing and okadas (local motorcycle taxis) beeping to let pedestrians and motorists know their passing on the right. We drove up to a beautiful turquoise building - the Wusum Hotel.
Before we checked into our room, up walks Ibrahim. We embraced as if we had known each other for years.
Entering the village was heartwarming and welcoming. We were greeted by the village director of school, the two village chiefs and a host of smiling faces from the children. Hasan was our interpreter and taught me the local greeting, “Asperri!” which means Hello. I greeted the director and chiefs and they erupted with laughter and joy. We walked around and met the children and their caregivers. The drummers were drumming, and I joined the children and some of the girls showed me how to dance to the rhythm of the beat. Ibrahim and Hasan brought all the sponsored children to me and I was overcome with emotions as a mother being reunited with her children.
On Tuesday, January 5, 2021, we headed to the Sierra Cares House - 25 minutes from the hotel. As we pulled up to the house, a welcome banner was on the gate and hung behind the panel of guests. The house was furnished and was immaculately cleaned. I was greeted by SCF assistants Hasan and Amos, the trauma counselor, Mr. Albert Sesay, Mr. Hamed Turay and Mr. Yayah Kargobo from Social Welfare Children Affairs Ministry.
I began the wellness training by introducing myself to each survivor personally, and Ibrahim started the training by introducing the panel of guests, singing a thank you song to God. I began by sharing the story behind Airline Ambassadors International and afterward handed out the wellness handbooks to each participant. Throughout the training, there were instances where the ladies volunteered to share their experiences when I touched on different topics.
The survivors were engaged and involved in the entire presentation. We took a movement break, listened to music, and danced and sang together. After the training on Human Trafficking, The ladies gave their feedback. After the training was complete, lunch was served, and I engaged with each survivor. After the training was completed each survivor signed the attendance sheet and collected 50 lbs. of rice. I promised the ladies that I would cook their lunch the following day.
Wednesday January 5, the training session began with praise and prayer followed by a review of the material that was covered the previous day. Then the counselor shared coping strategies and resources to contact when there is a need for support. I covered hygiene with the ladies and commenced preparing them lunch in an African dutch oven. With the assistance of two of the survivors, I prepared their local dishes called Sour, Sour soup (peanut butter sauce with water leaves and dried fish) with fufu (pounded cassava) and white cassava leaves with rice. They loved the meal and were grateful.
After lunch, the ladies asked if they could perform a skit for the team. They performed a skit about how they were deceived into human trafficking. Each skit was a narrative of 5 different scenarios. At the end, they sang a song, and the actors were interviewed and gave a plea to their fellow citizens about not falling prey to traffickers. Before the interviews, each participant signed the media consent form and attendance sheet. After the training session was over each participant filled out a survey about their experience of the training and received a gallon of cooking oil and seasoning cubes.The bond between the ladies was organic and sincere. The victims were eager to learn and wanted to become self-sufficient and work.They shared their dreams and goals with me. I felt a mandate was charged to my heart to make sure that we deliver by providing opportunities for them to thrive in their society.
This mission has been transformative for me personally. I am humbled and admire these survivors even more since I have had one on one interaction with them. am grateful for the support of Airline Ambassadors International for entrusting me to represent them on the wellness mission. I appreciate Peg for making the flight arrangements and John Rich, for capturing the wellness mission and precious moments with the children on video spending quality time with all the sponsored children and getting to know them personally was incredibly special.
Ibrahim John and Abeni with the orphans
Talking to trafficking victims