'Salone' is the local abbreviation for Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone gets its name from the hills that surround what is now Freetown. In 1462 the hills were named “Serra Lyoa”, or “Lion Mountains” by the Portuguese explorer Pedro de Cintra.
An iconic Cotton Tree stands in the oldest part of Freetown. It is believed to be the very tree where Nova Scotian settlers gathered to pray more than two hundred years ago. Saleoneans still pray and make offerings to the ancestors for peace and prosperity beneath this great ancestral tree.
Many towns and villages have a special tree that serves as a gathering place and has protective spiritual significance
The names of many villages begin with ‘Ka’ which simply means ‘village of…’.
Kayiben – Village of Yiben, Kafogo – Village of Fogo.
Sierra Leone has just two seasons - a hot, dry season, usually from about November to April and a hot, wet season from May to October.
The dry brings the hot, dusty wind from the Sahara, called the Harmattan.
The wet brings daily storms, massive rainfall and steamy humidity.
Most Saloneans speak Krio, an expressive language that combines English, French and traditional dialects such as Temne, Mende and Limba.
Children often learn four different languages—their parent’s ethnic language, a neighboring language, Krio, and the official language English.
Some Krio words: titi – little girl, bobo – little boy, pikins – children.
Because of the isolation, most of the people of Yiben speak only Limba. This is changing since the children are learning English at school.
Poda-podas are the main form of city transport and can be, for the visitor, a delightful cultural experience.
Mini-buses with bench seats and no maximum load, they carry a ‘conductor’ to squeeze in the passengers, collect fares and direct the good-humoured unloading and reloading at each stop.
Colorful fabrics characterise Salone.
Bright tie-dyed and batik prints are used for clothing, bundling, bedding and furnishings.
They are sold in standard lengths called lappas.
Saloneans are proudly patriotic.
Public buildings, including schools are often seen painted in the flag colours – green around the top, white around the middle and blue around the bottom.
Many international volunteers and NGOs are working with the government to help improve the living standard in Sierra Leone.
Queries from Ex-pats often receive the amused response: ‘You’re in Africa now!’.
Sierra Leone is smaller than the Australian island state of Tasmania and is home to more than 6 million people.
Many children die or are orphaned because health care is not available or too expensive.
Malaria, Yellow Fever, Typhoid Fever, HIV/AIDS, infections and malnutrition are always common causes of illness and death.
More than 3,500 Sierra Leoneans died during the ebola epidemic due to lack of health services.
Many women die giving birth or are left with severe injuries called fistula. While hospital deliveries are growing, many hospitals are still inadequate and mistrusted.
Many of the menfolk carry scars, permanent injuries and disabilities. They are survivors of the terrible civil war, the lucky ones.
Clean drinking water is not always available.
The beautiful and brilliantly colored Chameleon is regarded as dangerous and killed if it is found in a village.
The currency is Leones.
One Australian dollar is worth approximately 3,000 leones.
Schooling is compulsory for children in Sierra Leone yet still not available to all.
Lack of facilities, trained teachers and resources means that, in public schools, the school day must be broken into two sessions. Children attend for one session per day and learn only basic subjects.
Children in some remote areas still do not have access to schools at all.
Faith is integral to daily life in Sierra Leone, and is proclaimed in graffiti-like slogans on buildings, vehicles and road-side signs.
The main religion is Islam followed by Christianity. Traditional beliefs are woven through each. The two religions exist and thrive together in a model of religious harmony that could serve as an example to the rest of the world.
"It takes a village to raise a child."
Most communities consist of large extended families. Their elders are revered and respected, and everyone loves and shares responsibility for the children.