This Blog serves as two things: a photo-diary of our lives between 2007 and mid 2011, when we saw some incredible things and met some amazing people; and a reflection of our more normal lives since then.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Handover - 2.5 days to go!

Today was a huge day for me: I handed over my keys, my pager and my phone to Transport's new manager, Jeremy (from Deck. You know him?). We only found out on Friday that his transfer had been approved, so it's been a crazy time for him as he tries to learn the whole job in 2 days, but he's done very well. I reckon I must weigh about 90 tons lighter now, with the weight of the workshop and all 28 vehicles and 110 drivers removed from my shoulders. Good luck Jeremy.

Meanwhile, packing and sorting is going well. Sally is delighted that it looks like we probably won't need all of our ten-bag-allowance on the flights home. Most of our clothes are packed, and all the kids toys, but even so our cabin looks like the scene from a war movie, with every surface covered in fallen piles of stuff needing sorting before passing to neighbours and friends.

Meanwhile meanwhile, we welcome back to the ship our very good friends the Zupke family, who have lead Summer Program for the ship kids in 2004 in Europe, 2005 in South Africa, 2007 in Liberia, 2009 in Benin and now 2011 in Sierra Leone. It's great to see them again, and it's only too bad that we won't get to spend much time together before we leave on Thursday. God's timing as usual is perfect: the Zupkes and their team of helpers are keeping our kids amused whilst Sally and I pack and throw out all the precious things they've collected over the last 7 years...

Huh. Bye for now, Olly

Friday, 24 June 2011

My last, and 100th, dive

This afternoon I completed my 100th, and last (I hope) dive under the Africa Mercy. Visibility was amazingly good - the best I have seen yet in Freetown - but floating garbage was the worst I have ever seen - we had to enter and exit the water through a 2 foot thick floating island of trash that contained a dead rat and a dead cat amongst other things:


I leave the Dive Team in Dan's capable and energetic hands. Olly

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The saddest time of year again

Yes, it's that time again. School finished last week for the summer, and since then we've waved goodbye to many good friends, as they leave the ship forever, or travel on vacation. Today all our kids teachers left after their 2 year commitment: goodbye Miss Danae, goodbye Miss Orman, and goodbye Miss Estelle.

And this time in two weeks, we will have left too. 2 hours after takeoff from Freetown we'll probably be coming into Banjul en route for Brussels...Olly

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Rebuilding Land Rovers...again...for the last time!

With a little over 2 weeks to go before we leave the Africa Mercy, I have begun my last big renovation project - that of replacing the bulkhead and door supports on #482 (a year 2000 model). Here is the original bulkhead which was rusted through in many places and had such big holes in the front footwells that you could see the front wheels going round:


Lamin, my new mechanic, found a good bulkhead on a scrapped police Land Rover, which is already installed in the photos below. To do so the wings had to be removed, the doors, windscreen, steering wheel, dashboard, seats, wiring, roof lining, rear windows...a huge amount of work, done by a gang of young ex-combatants in a local workshop which is little more than a patch of mud surrounded by wrecked cars...all for about $600.



I am confident that before I leave, #482 will be back on the road again as an ambulance ready to face the next 5 years of hard labour in West Africa. Olly

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Badly burnt boy...

...died 2 weeks ago in hospital. Olly