Writing A Good Story: Life Lessons from Sierra Leone – story by Ethan Woodfill, Payton Wisniewski, Maggie Moore, and Kiara Devese

During her 40 minute presentation, Sarah Kluitenberg shared inspiring and educational stories about her year of living in Sierra Leone.

During her 40 minute presentation, Sarah Kluitenberg shared inspiring and educational stories about her year of living in Sierra Leone.

Sophomore Miriam Kluitenberg’s sister Sarah spoke to the 9th grade during 7th period on Thursday, September 18th.

“Who is playing these good tunes?” said Joey Bevilacqua. The fast-tempo and upbeat music brought much anticipation and suspense to the auditorium. World Geography teacher Mrs. Maisner introduced Sarah, and spoke about how the freshmen will be learning about Africa later in the year. “We will be studying this together,” Maisner said, “And I absolutely wanted to take the advantage of her coming in to speak.”

A steady applause from the audience welcomed Sarah as she began to warm the crowd up with a story from her school life. Sarah then introduced Sierra Leone, a country in Western Africa that includes 6 million people, where the spoken language is Creole.

The story of Sierra Leone included a video about the 1991 civil war that the country experienced. Their motto was that if they cut off people’s hands, they couldn’t vote. She showed a video about “Girl Soldiers”, where it started off with a woman singing in Creole. It then revealed that many girls were abducted by rebels at age 5 to 18. There was silence as dramatic images flashed on the screen. These girls were forced to pick up guns, even though they weren’t strong enough to, if they didn’t they were beat. Then the abducted girls were forced to kill people, including family members, and they were even forced to eat them. The audience glanced at each other with disgust.

Over 30% of girls ages 8 to 18 were abducted.

”I will never forget about that history,” a woman who was abducted said.

Sarah then began talking about the Ebola outbreak that has become a crisis in the country before showing another short film. “During the war, we knew the enemy, and now we fear everyone,” the presentation stated. “During the war, we could gather and find comfort with each other, and now we separate ourselves.”

People are not happy that the deceased cannot have a traditional funeral since the bodies are more contagious after death.

“They don’t even believe that the Ebola virus is real,” a person on the dead body management team said in the video. The team works to bury the infected bodies, a very risky job. “I am doing this job for you,” a team member said. They spoke about the sacrifice they take to protect their country.

Sarah said the ongoing problem is a result of traditional medicine, religious beliefs, and mistrust towards the government. “The need for better education to continue to develop the country…” she said. The country’s 31.5% literacy rate ddoesn’thelp the outbreak.

“It was interesting,” said Naudia Ellis. “i think that it was one of the best (assemblies) that we have had. it certainly had my attention for the entire time, and it was interesting,” Daniel Tallman said.

“I thought she made an excellent point about looking at things as far as what you truly value in life.” Mrs. Maisner said after the assembly, what made the biggest impact on Mrs. Maisner as she said was, “was probably the first video that  she showed about the soldiers.”

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