on 20 March 2020.
Yesterday I returned to the Netherlands. After Erdi’s funeral I went back to Sierra Leone. It was all very unreal to go back to work without her.
First of all, many thanks for all the heartwarming expressions of compassion I received after Erdi passed away. And also for the many advices to take it a bit easy since I was promoted to heart patient in August last year. I have certainly taken that to heart and I am doing well, taking pills faithfully. And that is also the reason that I am back in the Netherlands earlier than planned. Originally, the plan was to return on April 3, but with the expanding corona crisis, the risk of getting stuck in Sierra Leone became a bit too much for me. In itself there wouldn’t have been a speck of air just to stay longer and sit out the crisis safely in SL, were it not that after an extra week I would no longer have heart medicine, while most of the pills I prescribed not available in SL. As it turned out, my ticket could change just in time. A day after this was arranged, the message from Brussels Airlines came that they will suspend all air traffic for about a month from tomorrow, March 21.
The past two months in the hospital in Makeni have been hard without Erdi and I can still hardly imagine that she is no longer there, after more than 10 years of sharing with her love and (especially many Sierra Leoneese). I received a lot of support from a Dutch nurse, Nicoline, who worked as a volunteer for two months. And helped me tremendously to sort out all Erdi’s possessions. Meanwhile, most of that stuff is back in the Netherlands with the family and I am happy that I was able to do something for Erdi’s parents, brothers and sister.
During that time I also thought “the further” and decided to stop in Sierra Leone. The work and conditions there just require too much energy from me and it is time to slow down. Depending on how the corona crisis continues to develop, I plan to go back a few more weeks in June, or later, to hand over and finalize a number of things and then it will be nice after 11 years.
This is my last “newsletter from Sierra Leone”. Thanks for all the reactions, stuff, donations etc that I have received all these years as a result of my stories about my experiences in a poor country in Africa. Everyone is doing well and I will certainly have contact with many of you.