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Home / Stories from the field

Sierra Leone in the fall of 92 by TIM YOUNG

2003-11-17 23:30:58

I went to Sierra Leone in the fall of 92 to help set up a cyber cafe. I always knew time passed slower in places where the lack of luxuries such as electricity prevailed, but this was my first time. Our team had brought in the computers, and all the hardware and software we needed, but there were a few things lacking.

We had asked them to provide electricity and a telephone connection. The electricity came in the form of an electric generator, and the phone was "going to be installed momentarily." Every day we would come in, we would have to ask for the generator to be turned on. They would begin by finding someone to send out for fuel. Then, they would send out for the chap who could turn on the generator. It was usually afternoon before we had electricity.

The phone connection was finally installed the day we were leaving. I had a few hours to test out the connection, make last minute adjustments, and train the people how to run the dialing system. Of course, there were last-minute glitches. The rest of the team left to take the ferry to the airport, leaving me to put the final touches together. I totally missed the ferry, and ended up catching the last helicopter ride to the airport, a few hours later.

Things do move slowly sometimes when things like electricity are out of your control. I still beat the rest of my team. The ferry was incredibly slow, and I had time to rest before they arrived with my plane tickets and passport.

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