On May 27, Hastings-UK bid farewell to a group of teachers from Sierra Leone, whom the former had hosted for 12 days. The twelve days trip was so compact that our Special Correspondent in London, Saidu Kaye Sesay deemed it necessary to conduct series of telephone interviews that culminated in a pep talk with the group at Heathrow Airport.
The visiting group included Mrs. Jeitta Kanneh (Head Teacher, Kossoh Town School), Mr. Samuel Williams (Head Teacher, Rokel School), Mrs Mary Carew (deputy head teacher, Rokel School), Mrs Regina Martin, Proprietress, Regmel School, Hastings), Mr Mohamed A. R. Kamara (Teacher, Technical College, Kissy and Mr Francis Mason (Co-ordinator for the teachers).
Upon arrival at Heathrow Airport, UK, May 17, the teachers were received by Hastings-UK representatives based in Romford, Greater London, led by twin sisters Yvette John and Yvonne Johnson (Sierra Leoneans). Delegates were then taken to Romford, where they were feted for two days; including a family barbecue that allowed them to rub shoulders with their family members in UK. During the stay, an upbeat Yvette John had a telephone conversation with this press, during which she unfolded the itinerary of the delegates. “At Hastings, they will have the opportunity to witness school sessions and relax in their spare time with their hosts. We want to re-build the Hastings community after the decade long war”, she said, ruing Sierra Leone’s lack of culture maintenance.
On Day Three, (May 19), of the teachers’ visit, they were ferried to Hastings on a mini bus, facilitated by another Hastings-UK rep Roger, based at Hastings. Once at Hastings, the assembled party discussed the week’s plan and were hosted to yet another barbeque.
The succeeding days were full of insightful and educative events that included a shadowing of teachers at classrooms, breakfasts, lunches and dinners at hotels and different accommodations, witnessing a football match, participating in a “crazy” golf tournament, trips, presentations by various groups, celebration assemblies in schools, a reception with the Hastings Mayor and pupil members, a tour of the caves and the ancient town, climaxed by a shopping at Tesco.
One of the prominent members of the Sierra Leone teachers, Mrs. Jeitta Kanneh rightly remarked, “This is what we yearned for when we left Sierra Leone; a working trip. How hosts made it possible. Thank you is an understatement. We are really grateful. I observed the disparity in teaching skills between the two countries, and we will work towards improve teaching in Sierra Leone. Our hosts; from Romford to Hastings have been really fantastic. On behalf of my colleagues, I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
Talking to one of the Hastings-UK hosts at Heathrow, Derek Tomblin, who identified himself as a civil engineer, he said, “My team had been to Hastings Sierra Leone, were we helped to renovate destroyed bridges as well as help in other projects. We are happy to host these brilliant teachers, and hope to do more”.
In an email to this press, Yvette John revealed, “Hastings, East Sussex will also be hosting the Olympic team from Sierra Leone at the White Rock Hotel in Hastings. They will arrive in England sometime in July and will be staying at Hastings for several days, during which time they will be able to do their practice at William Parker School Grounds. We are hoping to join them on the day the Olympic Torch will be passing through Hastings”.
Keep reading PV for information on the extraordinary relationship between the two Hastings.