Let’s Talk About Sports, Baby

Every year in Sierra Leone, schools primary level through college, participate in “Sports”. Sports can entail a variety of games and competitions, but it typically constitutes a 1-2 day track and field competition between 4 houses. About a month before the event, teachers and students are put into different houses. At my school, we decided to work with the Primary school next door. All the teachers of both schools did a random drawing to place them into one of four houses (Pink, Yellow, White, Blue). Next, the students did the same, evenly distributing all of the Primary School and three levels of Junior Secondary School (think US middle school) students into the 4 houses. I unfortunately ended up in White House… Then, three weeks before the day of the event, the school starts arbitrating the students, aka measuring their height and weight and putting them into categories (i.e. Infant, Junior, Intermediate, Senior). The point of this is to avoid having 10 year olds running against 16 year olds in the same race. Two weeks before the Sports Day, the school begins preparing an area for the competition. In my case, we decided to use the town football field, but I know other school’s that used their school yard instead, for example. This entailed clearing the ground of grass, weeds, and debris in the general shape of a track, building a fence out of bamboo sticks and tree branches, carrying red clay and white chalk powder from somewhere in the town to the field, building a shaded booth for the announcers and some special guests, just to name a few. Also, at some point, officials came and properly measured out the length of the track and making it symmetrical. It was hard work and the sun was hot as hell, but it got done by the students and teachers working together (though a few teachers and students did much more work than others ha). The last week was dedicated to building a booth (also called a “baffa”) for each house. This was done by the house members themselves, and it was up to them for size and design. The baffas were built out of bamboo, tree branches, and palm leaves. White House had the best baffa. Period. One of the few downsides to the Sports Day preparations was that there was essentially no school for those 3 weeks.

The day of competition was ridiculously hectic. Due to money constraints, the Sports Committee opted to have only one day of sports rather than two. While understandable, it resulted in having around 70 events to complete in about 9 hours (which actually ended up being 7 ½ hours, because LOL Sierra Leone and doing things on time). Each house was set up in a different corner of the field, and 3 of the 4 houses had their own speaker system, which when added to the announcer’s speaker system made it very, veryyyy loud. Many of the events that took place were typical to track and field with everything from 100m dash to 4x400m relay to shot put and both boys and girls competing. However, there were also unique event like Lime and Spoon, Balancing Race, and Needle and Thread. The Balancing Race was the most impressive to me, because it’s a 100m race but the competitors also have to balance a glass bottle on their head…Literally, some of the girls can RUN while balancing a bottle on their heads. Incredible.
Anywho, by around 2 pm, the crowd was getting really big, and it stayed about that size till the event finished. We ended the Sports Day with the 100m dash for each group. By 6:30, the Sports Day wrapped up and the winners were announced. Unfortunately, White House came in 3rd place, but we still had the best Baffa so whatevs. The whole thing was really fun, and I am excited to do Sports Day next year (and win).

In other news, Dry Season turned out to be a lot less frightening than I expected. One of the big things that all the volunteers heard about shortly after we arrived was how terrible the dry season was and how difficult obtaining any amount of water would be, especially in the months of March and April. In January and February, I probably saw rain a combined 4 times, and I was beginning to get concerned about water. Plus, to add to that issue, my town has an absurd amount of broken water pumps; as in, on my 15ish minute walk to school I walk past 10 broken pumps, but that’s a post for another time. Anyway, in a surprising turn of events, it has rained like 15 times since the beginning of March, so I haven’t had any trouble getting water to clean the dishes/wash with. Not all of the other volunteer sites have been this fortunate though. From talking with some of the other volunteers, the rain that my site has been receiving is much greater than some areas more north and west of me. In a couple weeks, Salone (Sierra Leone) will officially be heading out of the Dry Season, so things should improve.

Pablo Update: Cute. Exasperating amounts of energy. Moved from eating shoes to also eating clothes. Future leader of dogs in Hell.

In continuing with the list of books from last week, I give you my favorite books in the Harry Potter series (in a particular order obvs):
1. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (God Harry is so whiny in this book)
7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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