It’s impossible to describe the poverty we are seeing. We can’t put into words the sensation of being pressed into the ground by the heat laden air. We can’t describe the smells of earth, and dung, and refuse that surround the area. But, worst of all, we can’t begin to describe the living conditions of the masses huddled on the edges of what used to be the wide sweeping boulevards of the city, now reduced to single lanes.
We’re in one of the worst areas at the moment, on the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak—not that there’s really a right side. We’ve come in search of a couple of tailors, young men from Sierra Leone who are said to make beautiful jackets.
We find them in a tiny windowless room where they live, sew, cook, and sleep. We admire their work. The men explain that they draw the designs and dye the fabric themselves.
I try on a vest. I’d like to see what it looks like. One of the young men hands me a mirror. It’s one of those little pocket mirrors. If I adjust it just right I can see a couple of square inches of the back of my shoulder. I think the vest is too big, but I buy it anyway.
My husband says he’d like a jacket. The men measure him with string, tying knots to mark shoulder width, arm length, etc. They promise to have the jacket ready in two days and they do.
Later, we learn later that the two wonderful artisans moved on looking for better prospects. Just where they might find them in the vast wastelands of West Africa is hard to fathom.