The Benevolent Kumrabai Rogbanah School was once a train station. The children have never seen a train—the railway closed in 1974. It is a reminder of how prosperous Sierra Leone once was.
The conditions are cramped with some children forced to sit on the dusty ground. But they consider themselves lucky to have a building of any kind and are quite proud of it.
Teacher Amandum Seray said, “It is very difficult, we don’t have enough teachers or space. But we manage, we always have to.”
Around 1974, thanks to my mum teaching me to read at home, I was happily working my way through every book I could get my hands on. At my state infants school in Tamworth, I was slowly going out of my mind with boredom.
To this day my sister sleepwalks. One evening, aged three, she made her way down the stairs in one of her trances with a pile of books in her arms and said, “I want to learn to read like Damian”, so my mum taught her even earlier.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Thanks, mum.