Salone Entry 16: Returning to Rotifunk

December 3rd 

I’ve quickly realized how static my memory of Rotifunk had become. I’d only been in town for three days in 2014, and though I took as many pictures as I could then, so much of what I’d remembered was incorrect.

A good friend of mine in Iraq once told me that we don’t remember an actual event, simply the last time we thought about it, and that this contributes to the mind’s ability to warp “facts” in memories while maintaining the belief that they are 100% correct. As if we become witnesses to our own memories rather than the ones directly experiencing them. Seeing the town debunked so much of what I remembered and destroyed the mental map I’d kept for three years.

It took me a day to re-orient myself in Rotifunk and figure out where everything was.
However, seeing the school again on my second day in Rotifunk made everything rush back to normal. The past three years my memories of Rotifunk have orbited around my continual updates from Rashid and Daniel of work and changes at Bumpeh Academy. So even as the town had become static to me, I’d been informed of or part of every small change in the school.

I’ve always loved the rusty Bumpeh Academy sign.
The three unfinished classrooms stood unchanged, but the building had more pride. Off to the right of the main structure were the new latrines which we had built at the beginning of 2017. Where before there had been three bamboo huts, a collection of school fees and excess funds from the latrine project had erected the skeletal structure that was serving as the classrooms for the senior secondary school.

The school building in its entirety. When I’d visited back in 2014, only the three classrooms to the right (the completely walled area) were standing. Since then, we’ve contributed funds to build the latrine, and also assist school fees in building the skeleton of the three classrooms to the right, which serve the Senior Secondary (high school) students. Visible off to the right are the latrines, which BADP built in January-February 2017.
A better look at the Bumpeh Academy staff/student latrines.

After visiting the school, I sat down with Rashid and Daniel as we organized the budget and funding for the next two weeks. While reviewing different proposed issues, I flagged the idea of providing soft drinks to the trainings as an excess expense, seeing as that we were already providing a free meal and packet waters.

Rashid suggested that we shift the 1.7 million Leones for soft drinks towards structural improvements so that I could also document some improvement for the time I’d be present. I thought it was a great idea. It will also give me an opportunity to observe and join in the process of seeing how Rashid and Daniel go about setting up and overseeing school construction work so I can better relate it to people at home.

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