Lehman alumnus Joe Diomede (B.A., ’83) has traveled from his home in France to Sierra Leone on the West African coast, a nation still recovering from a brutal decade-long civil war that ended in 2002. An avid cyclist, Diomede is working for the next three months with an organization called the Village Bicycle Project (villagebicycleproject.org) to repair and refurbish bicyles, a means of transportation that can dramatically improve both the lives and economic futures of those residing in villages far from the city center. He used most of his baggage allowance on the plane ride there to bring along tires and bicycle parts he collected from various shops in the U.S., U.K., and France. From time to time, he will share his experiences in a blog with the Lehman community.
September 16, 2012
It’s so true how our world is affected by us all. A film that caused unrest in Northern Africa and the Mid-East has changed my entry to Sierra Leone; the director is no longer coming with me tomorrow because of unrest in the city of Tunis where his wife works. So now I am entering alone into Sierra Leone, which just makes the adventure that much more challenging. On the other hand, all the positive responses and help in many ways I have received from friends and family has overwhelmed me and shown me that the conclusions I have drawn in my 50 years of life still hold true: People want to help each other, and our world; despite its craziness on the outside, deeper down we all want to be part of the healing process.
I am just the tool for the next three months, doing what many others have done before, and many aren’t able to do for various other reasons. I am glad to be of service.
September 24, 2012
Well, I’m sitting in the Baptist eye clinic in a very poor part of the world. The infrastructure here is pretty non-existent. The roads are very muddy and potholed at this tail end of the rainy season. The people are welcoming and friendly. It is strange to be one of very few whites around. The local language is Temene. My tribal name is Almami Kamara, which means grandson of the chief, and that is what many people call me now. I walk down the street, and someone will say Almami and give a big wave. Have fixed a few bikes, but haven’t given any tech seminars yet. Tomorrow will be the first. I have been joined by someone from Ghana who is doing the same work there so he’s giving me ideas. All is new.