An upline village with vast acres of marshland that can feed the entire country

On the day I was to return to the U.S., my ferry to the airport experienced mechanical issues. In the time it took to repair the ferry, I missed my flight. I rushed back to catch the same ferry back to Freetown as it was the last of the day. The missed flight must have been an act of divine providence. It meant that I had to stay an extra few days in Salone.

Alpha Jalloh, the owner of the Hill Valley Hotel and our local partner in Salone said he was going to take me on an important trip to a village “upline” Salone in the Makeni, Northern Province. The village was Madina, near the border with Guinea. Alpha said, “What you did in Freetown, feeding the children and nurses in the hospital, the amputees and homeless was great. But this place I am taking you to, this land can feed the entire country”.

The people of Madina were such beautiful, wonderful people. We talked to them and gave them some candy and whatever we had. Unfortunately, we had not prepared bag lunches to feed the people as we had done in Freetown. It was just a trip that happened unexpectedly. I spoke with the village chief who showed me the land they have. It extends farther than the eye can see and more. The chief said that this marshland goes for 15 or more miles. There is plenty of water for irrigation throughout. They cultivate small plots of rice, 10-20′ squares, by hand. They can’t do any larger because they have no equipment. They are managing very few acres of a vast landscape of marshland. The village chief told me that with a couple tractors, this land could supply the entire country’s rice demand and still have plenty left over for export. The government dropped off two big cultivation hoes, but they are really big and they have nothing to pull them.

This opportunity is a “game changer” for Sierra Leone and Hope for Lives. We don’t know what it would take in the way of equipment to cultivate this land into rice fields or other agricultural uses, but it is already a marsh and there is plenty of water available for irrigation trenches. You can see in this Google Earth image the geography and features that make this land perfect for cultivation of a variety of agricultural products.

Our current focus remains on building fishing boats, but hopefully we can research methods of utilizing this open marshland and creating another opportunity for the people in Makeni.

Map of Madina in Makeni, Sierra Leone