More from Marks Journal

June 5

SIERRA LEONE

Heading up to Kamakwie today, a couple of hours away.

Today we have been negotiating with management, and visiting schools to make sure we are getting the best results and bang-for-buck for the kids. There are barely any science labs, so thousands of kids are behind there. There are barely any library facilities. All these things are taken in to account, as well as teaching rigor and expertise. And given the shabby and expensive transport options, proximity matters.

Today we are going more remote, and we will also be thinking of the possibility of juggling kids between orphanages so the older kids in particular get the best opportunities. On one hand it seems the great benefit of OrphFund accommodation is that all levels of kids are together, like a family. On the other hand these older kids need less interruptions and more support in the final school years.

Of course, this would be immediately obvious to all you parents out there!

It is not immediately apparent what school fees are. One school quotes one figure per year, but then charges extra (double the initial fees!) to attend classes. And then some of the teachers don't teach, and the class just sit there.

Sometimes it feels like I'm Alice in wonderland! But like the heat, one quickly acclimatises to the bizarre.

The lesson for me, a partially informed volunteer, is this.

LITTLE STEPS...

All these decisions take careful consideration, weighing up the impossible, improbable against the likely and possible.

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I would consider it a full time job for one project, but Steve co-ordinates 9, plus many smaller outreach projects. He does this as a volunteer on a tiny budget. In his words... the big charities have been getting millions of dollars a year and have been here for decades, but very little is changing.

OrphFund is slowly expanding its RESULTS, taking little careful steps. Effective altruism people...