By Breton F. Washington

November 16, 2010 will be a day I remember for the rest of my life. You see, November 16 is my birthday, and it was the last day of life for Mr. John.

Mr. John will forever have a special place in my life. Not because he died on my birthday, but because Mr. John was a builder. Mr. John built my vision, a new 5 classroom concrete and wood school to replace the 2 room traditional mud wall and thatched roof structure. You see, I designed The Chief Foday Golia Memorial School in Njala Kendema to educate the children of Sierra Leone . Mr. John and I worked closely for days to select the right mix of cement, gravel, and rebar size for the school’s concrete foundation. At first we argued about the gravel size. He felt that I was wasting material. He said, “Perhaps, we could build the school using less gravel and save money by using bigger stones.” I said no, not because I was the American who knew better. I just wanted the strongest & safest structure for the children in Njala Kendema and its neighboring villages. We finally agreed and the school was built.

Life weaves many twists and turns as we move along on our journey. Most we do not immediately comprehend, but sometimes things tend to become clearer as we grow older and hopefully wiser. As I am writing these thoughts, I’m also finalizing plans for the addition to the school. I look forward to being in Sierra Leone once again when we break ground. This time, Mr. John will not be at my side, but his spirit will be inside me.

Last week the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation (LHSF) announced that that they will send $2 million dollars worth of hospital supplies and equipment to the Bo Government hospital in Sierra Leone . The donation they said, is the first of a series of humanitarian shipments to the ancestral home of Isaiah Washington who is also a board member of the LHSF. I met with Mr. Washington last week. We discussed the school, the new wells for clean drinking water and status of health care in Sierra Leone. I reaffirmed my commitment to Isaiah as a Health care Architect to help in any capacity needed. If Isaiah knew of the donation at that time, he certainly did not mention it and I think I know him well enough now to understand why he didn’t.

God bless the soul of our departed brother Mr. John. He will be missed but I will remember him every year when I celebrate being blessed to have had one more year of life.

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