The Whole of West Africa

Kenema City, Kenema District, Sierra Leone
Friday, July 21, 2017

by Stanley Bockarie

Crew Leader – Stanley Bockarie

I am Brima Stanley Bockarie, people can call me Stanley; I am a native of Kenema city in South Eastern Sierra Leone. After I had field experience working for MSF as in Security and as a Labour Supervisor, I learned about GPS surveying in a position for a project by Unicef and Kenema city council. In 2014-15, during the Ebola crisis, I met Ivan Gayton when he was stationed in Magburuka in Tonkolili District. MSF sponsored some surveying and I was left with supervising over ten teams of surveyors, handling the payroll, the route management—everything.

Honestly, I think this project is very good, and history making. We go to the people’s own village, and ask them about it to put them on the map. When you go into a village, the first thing is that people want to know is, “Why are you in our village?” They won’t say anything without the Chief at first, but either way, you have to explain about the project, and if you can find the Chief, get informed consent. Sometimes the Chief might not be available, and then you have to explain that a person who knows about the village can also answer the questions, and how the project will help Sierra Leone.

The other residents of the village will also help give the information. Everyone will help out to get the proper information. They are happy to know that they will be on the map. When you start doing the survey, people gather around—the women, the children, the Elders. Sometimes there is someone among them who is educated. It could be the Speaker of the village for example. The Speaker is a person who speaks for the village, and who defends the village. The Speaker is a representative for the village, but it is only the Chief who takes decisions about the village. The Speaker can only communicate information approved by the Chief. The Speaker works under that mandate.

During the survey, I make sure to show people the spelling of the names on my phone, especially the name of the village, which is our top priority. People will be helpful. It is not only a sense of pride to be on the map, but villagers understand that there is a connection between being recognized and seen, and ultimately to be recognized by the world and included in future projects instead of being left out and unnoticed.

This survey is more difficult than the work in Magburuka, because I was more of a planner. This time I am leading by being out in the Field as a surveyor myself as well. It is important to me to set the best example for my team. Sometimes I have to be very strong in training them and to keep pushing to get the standard higher for the surveys to be completed properly. I want the surveying to be a continuous process—new villages actually come into being, and somehow that needs to be checked regularly. In my heart, not only do I want the rest of Sierra Leone to be finished completely if we can get funding, but if possible, in the whole of West Africa.