Thursday 28th February

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Last night I was awakened by the sound of the rain falling on the roof of the accommodation block in which I was staying. The rain was falling hard and fast in what sounded like very large drops. Despite the fact that it had woken me from my sleep, it was a welcomed sound. I resisted the temptation to run outside and dance in the rain…just. Yesterday evening was very humid, and I could feel the air clearing with every drop. I managed to drift back to sleep.

We had an early start this morning. Breakfast was taken and we made our way to the venue of today’s workshop; The Holy Rosary Sisters’ Counseling Centre. This is the same venue that Beate had used to deliver the introductory workshop last year (I had only facilitated workshops in Freetown last year). It was great to meet some new faces, and see some familiar ones too (George and Victor whom I had met yesterday). We had our youngest workshop attendee ever today – 3 month old Precious came along with her mum Margaret. Precious stole the show. She was as good as gold; one of the most contented babies I have ever met. Corinna fell in love instantly. The African maxim that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ very much applied today. Every one took a share to pop out and see how Precious was doing in the room next door.

Beate and I structured the content of the workshop around the structure of the advanced workshop that we had delivered in Freetown. We tweaked a few things on the basis of our reflections of how things had gone in Freetown and the feedback that attendees had provided about that particular workshop – flexibility in action!! We made time during the day to focus on practical skills and exercises that the attendees can apply in the work that they do with clients. After role-playing these exercises in front of the group, we wrote-up key points and guidance on the flipchart paper at the front of the room. It was great to see the enthusiasm that people displayed in taking their notes from the flip-chart pages during the breaks.

We were honoured to have Prof Nancy Peddle from Chicago in the workshop today. She has been coming to SL since 1996 and founded the LemonAid Foundation to support the training of psychosocial interventions in SL. I have read with admiration the work that Prof Peddle has done her, but it was great to meet her and learn more about her work. So many connections have been cemented during this visit, and we are hopeful that these will lead to important opportunities for collaboration.

After the completion of today’s component of the workshop, we met with Sister Angie who heads up the Holy Rosary Sisters’ Counselling Service. She is clearly an intelligent and driven women who has doing much to promote the training of counselors in SL. We told her about Heather Weaver and Carmen Valle and suggested that she contact them to see about the potential for linking in with the Enaling Access to Mental Health Sierra Leone project. We are doing our bit to help connect the dots and facilitate a joined up approach to mental health in SL…

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