By Alusine Sesay
The thirteen Norwegians from the ATEA Technology Company, who travelled purposely to visit the Prosperity Girls High School in Rotifunk, had an amazing two-day experience they so cherish that they are craving for a comeback in the near future.
The fifty mile journey from Freetown to Rotifunk the previous Friday (28 March) may have lasted for four hours, but the visitors were thrilled, taking photos of the African panorama as they canoed to their final destination.
At 4:00pm, the 13-man team, headed by Alton Bendu, Proprietor of Prosperity Girls School, arrived at Rotifunk and were met by hundreds of school pupils and community elders, amidst cultural dancers and onlookers, chanting words of praises as the team headed to the court barry of Paramount Chief Charles Caulker.
At the court barry, the Norwegians were welcomed to a surprise banquet of African dishes of all kinds displayed on tables.
Being part of his duties, as chieftain, to accommodate good strangers to his town, P.C. Caulker welcomed the team from ATEA, who are the sole sponsors of the boarding home of the Prosperity Girls High School.
“Each time you come to our town, we feel pleased. We appreciate you for all that you have done for us. Your intervention has given a new [lease] life to our school. We are proud that our town and our district are partners in putting girls above boys in terms of education,” he told the team. P.C. Caulker revealed that the chiefdom has one of the best schools in the district, thanking Alton Bendu for making girls feel proud.
Speaking at the banquet, Bendu said his contribution to the development of the township came naturally. “It is my obligation to bring back the lost glory to my town. Honestly, it is not easy to raise funds to give Rotifunk the best girl school. I won’t give up,” he assured.
During nightfall on that same day, the pupils of Prosperity Girls High School organised a cultural dance to entertain their Norwegian friends, who found the ceremony altogether intriguing.
The following day brought a new and never-to-be forgotten experience for the Norwegians. The day was designated to boat riding and sightseeing.
The team was driven in cars to Saima Wharf where the boat, painted with the Norwegian flag, was anchored. At 11:a.m., the team boarded the boat for BangaGron, the village where Alton Bendu hailed from.
The two nautical mile voyage to BangaGron lasted for one-hour-twenty minutes, during which they went past five villages, taking photos of children with farmers tilling the land. They took beautiful photos of rare birds, hitherto unseen in Norway.
At the creek of BangaGron, the team was once more met by a group of villagers. They were given fresh fruits, including coconuts and cacao and were led into BangaGron for sightseeing. They were shown different cultural areas that truly depict Sierra Leone, beginning from plantations to sacred sites.
On returning to Rotifunk, the villagers cooked local food, prepared with banga (palm oil) soup for the team. The team trekked on mud and wreckages to partake of the food in boat, anchoring distance from the landing point. Then, the boat pulled back, going through lagoons and deltas to Saima Wharf in the evening sun.
According to members of the team, this was an experience they will forever cherish.
On the last day of their visit, the ATEA, team donated clothes and torch lights to pupils of Prosperity Girls High School.
Speaking at the donation ceremony, Rosaline Kaimbay, who is principal of the school, said it is not easy to bring education to rural girls, but she and her staff has maintain high standards at the school. “We have been classed as the best school in the Moyamba district. For this, we are proud of you ATEA and we promise that you will always hear good news from us, always,” she said.
The head of the ATEA team, Linda Greni, said they were happy to being part of the Boarding home project.
Her colleague, Heige Thime, urged the pupils to study hard to actualize their dreams. “You are the engine for positive change,” he said.