I used to love getting mail. As a kid I would collect all of my parents’ junk mail and pretend that each envelope was an important letter sent specifically for me.
In Sierra Leone, I’m unaware of any official mail system. Of course things can be sent to the capital, Freetown. However, beyond international mail arriving in Freetown, people merely seem to wait until someone else is going in the direction they want to send a letter, money, or whatnot, and then ask that person to carry it for them.
Without a formal postal service, you wouldn’t expect that I would get much mail out here in the bush, but you would be wrong.
And if you’re wondering if that one on top is addressed ‘To You My Sweetheart’ you would be right. No need to cause alarm, it is only from a young lady in the village. The people of Sierra Leone can be very affectionate.
The letters are always overly formal and gushing with appreciation, and usually expressing a need or desire for either themselves or a member of their family. Knowing that I can never fulfill all of the requests out there, I feel more trepidation than excitement when I’m handed a letter these days, and I don’t get nearly as many letters as Alastair does. Alastair says he looks at them as an opportunity to open communication in addressing needs as opposed to a direct plea for assistance. I’m trying to learn how to use them as a tool and have even written a ‘love letter’ myself.