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Sunday, March 06, 2011

Arrival in Sierra Leone

On 27th February we arrived in the country of Sierra Leone in the city of Freetown.
Celebrations awaited us on the dock and that morning we weren't even too sure whether we would be able to dock there. The previous day we had heard that there was a strike at the port due to another company taking over on the 1st March. Our aim was to get in before that, but hadn't planned on strike action which meant there were no linesmen to take our lines to tie us up. Fortunately our advance team had a "deckie" as part of the team so he quickly gathered volunteers from the Mercy Teams and Gateway that we already had situated in Freetown and gave them a quick lesson on how to tie a ship up.
It worked and we arrived safely with the help of the 2 pilots, below, to guide us in.
It was a joyous occasion, the children had made Sierra Leone flags in School and the police band played and the baton twirler, twirled and even balanced his baton on his head.
Then we had the great moment as our 2 Sierra Leonian crew members walked down the gangway with their country's flag and at the bottom a child waited to receiveit, what was special was that child had received a surgery on board one of our previous ships, the Anastasis, when he was a baby. He was so proud as he carried that flag.
Our managing Director and his wife were received by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and she gave a speech to welcome us.
We are so looking forward to serving in this country and to see the changes since Sharon's last visit in 2001. Already Sharon walked down town last weekend and enjoyed interacting with those in the market. They seemed very respectable and never pushed to get you to buy things, if you said no, they accepted it. I think we are going to enjoy it here.

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