St. Simeon Skete, Taylorsville Kentucky USA

With St. Simeon, the God receiver, as our patron, the skete seeks to practice the ideals found in our Rule, The Thousand Day Nazareth. In simplicity and poverty, the skete embraces the struggle of inner life through the practice of the Prayer Rope.

See our website at

Donations should be addressed to: Nazareth House Apostolate, 185 Captains Cove Drive, Taylorsville, Kentucky 40071.

Important Notice: All writings, posts, graphics & photographs in this blog are the copyrighted property of (unless otherwise indicated) Nazareth House Media, a division of Nazareth House Apostolate and cannot be copied, printed or used without written permission from NHA Media, Taylorsville, KY.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Kabala Report from James in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Report James Mansaray: NHA Media: 28 May: Having spent four good days in the provinces, i am happy to report it all to you.
This time it was on a late Friday evening when i got a comfortable ride to Kabala. Phone lines were out so it was very difficult for me to inform Mama Vicki earlier but she finally got hold of me and we got little time texting back and forth.
I did took along few medications, some rice and building supplies to help push the school Construction. With the little money sent by Mama Vicki just a day before i left, there was enough to do all of the wall plastering and white washing as you can see on the pictures. Day by day the workers are doing their best and i guess it wont be too long to see it all done.
Saturday morning was kind of hectic. I was busy moving back and forth buying more concrete whilst Pa Foday was painting and the rest of the workers doing their part. Lunch time was the only break we had and at the end of the day, a whole portion of work was done.
Sunday they rested but i took time to do medications in some very poor and needy areas. With a blink of an eye a box full of kids pain and fever medication was all gone. I felt so guilty for not meeting all their needs so i promised the rest that more will come later. At the other end of this small village a group of kids were struggling over a little pot of left over rice in a small pot. One of them almost ate the pot licking and licking and there was nothing in it. An old lady tending to these kids said please bring us rice........

Monday was another long day with more work done. At this point, seems as if we need more concrete to finish all the walls and floors before we think of the ceiling, doors and windows before painting is done.
More people mostly villagers just cant wait to see this done as they kept stopping every moment to say hello and thanks to the workers. Pa Foday like Fr. Hicks patient enough to answer to every question.

Even though I exhausted my self enough, i was happy to make this trip and indeed it was a successful one and the contractor said they will finish the building supplies on friday and will wait till more money comes in to finish the other parts.
Before closing this one, two issues were of interest to me. I noticed more crowded vehicles due to the recent fuel increase making it very dangerous to travel for those who cant meet a comfortable ride and the of cause mangoes taking the place of rice every where but this wont be too long before the struggle begins again.

I look forward to make another trip as soon as more money comes in to finish this school work. Thanks to you all for your relentless support so far.
God bless you all.

Mangoes & Rice: A Report from James in Freetown

Imported rice from Thailand namely Parboiled, Triple AAA and Bella Rosa to name but these three has taken a toll in the markets making it very difficult for the ordinary man to meet a whole bag, instead some go for the half bag which is 25 kg and majority do with the one cup service which is meeting what you can afford for a day and then leave the following day to fend for itself.

For some, especially up in the provinces, a mixture of rice and Bulgur (some kind of brown wheat also imported) which is usually being used to feed pigs, is being blended together to make a perfect family dinner.

The other day, i sat together with a group of fellow photographers at the Sun Colour Photo Studio down Sanders Street and I noticed several push carts carrying bags of rice, old and young men sweating and forcing more rice with their wheelbarrows. Printed on one of the rice bags was USAID,followed by a small writing at the bottom - A GIFT FROM THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. These lines throw lots of question to us and we started debating about it. The argument was, was this sent to us as a gift when people we are paying for it? This remained unanswered.

Let's say, where man fails to come to our rescue, God is always there to help. The months April and May has been good indeed bringing forth more mangoes to help combat the hungry homes. It was said years back that people in Freetown only eat mangoes to balance their diets but my pictures are saying the opposite. More homes are making better use of it including St. Laurence House forgetting this diet balance thing and using mango as a way to ward off hunger.

In Kabala, it is very difficult to tell whether mangoes should be eaten at a certain time because people sleep, wake and dine with it twenty four hours a day.

My fear is what will people do when all this mango season celebration will be done in a months' time and the rice prices still the same or worst?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Nazareth House Kabala School

By the bare hands of the workers in Kabala, the Nazareth House School is nearing completion.

Please look for more pictures, more news, and more information from our staff in Sierra Leone on this blog and the photo albums of our website in the next several days.

Family Dinners in Kabala, Sierra Leone




Posted by Picasa

"The gratitude of the recipient stimulates the donor to gifts greater than before." - second Discourse #1

Nazareth House Apostolate is doing a lot with very little, if you haven't given lately, please consider doing so TODAY. The need is great.

What's for Dinner?

Photo #1: (Top to bottom) This family shares a mango dinner as they sit in front of their home. More and more people in Sierra Leone are filling up on mango with the cost of rice too expensive to purchase.

Photo #2: A mother and young child share a rice & cassava dinner together

Photo #3: Roo helps with preparation of cassava for dinner at St. Laurence House

Photo #4: Roo anxiously waits for dinner to be cooked so he can fill his belly.

Charities are hurting financially and Nazareth House Apostolate is no exception. Americans have had to cut out on travel and watch our food budgets in the USA, however, in Sierra Leone it is more than a matter of cutting something out of the budget. There is no income to cut from, it is a matter of going hungry and starvation. Please, give what you can - we can make a difference in their lives with what those of us in the West consider "very little money" - so please - any contribution is better than none at all. Thank You.

Send donations to:
Nazareth House Apostolate, 2216 Goldsmith Lane, Louisville, KY 40218.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mango help ease hunger...

The Mangoes are in Season. This is a great help to the hungry in Sierra Leone. The two children (pictured above) are filling up on mango because the rice they have always depended on their mother to provide them with each day is too costly to afford these days. Our staff & family in Freetown at St. Laurence House must also depend on the mango to compensate for the lack of rice due to the fact it is too high priced to purchase.

Rice Price Gauging in Freetown?????

It is being reported that the business owners in Freetown are sending their workers out to buy large quantities of bags of rice. They, in turn, sell it to the population of Freetown at a higher price than they, themselves paid. Whether this is indeed the case or not, the above photos are evidence of the "hoarding" of rice. The people in Freetown, unable afford to purchase rice (their main food source) by the bag, now are buying it by the cup - enough to get through the day - and if they are lucky to have enough money - enough to get through a week.

It is interesting to note the US AID written on the bag of rice in the above pictures. It was my understanding that Humanitarian AID rice was provided to countries in need - free of charge, yet these bags will be sold to the people in Sierra Leone for a profit.

We welcome your comments on this issue, click on the "comments" link below, just to the right of the posting time. Thank You.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Typhoid in Freetown

The first picture above is of Julian (under 4 years old). He is a neighbor to St. Laurence House in Freetown. He lives with his mother, Maranda and father, Franklin and his baby sister, Ruth. The next picture, of course, is of Ann Marie and Roo (not yet 2 years old).

Both Julian and Roo are suffering a mix of typhoid and malaria. Not easy on a child so young. This is not the first time to have these illnesses for either of them. The tap water in Sierra Leone is contaminated. Mosquitoes are out in full force. I will keep you updated on the boys condition as I receive word.

Donations for bed netting are requested (see website to contribute) $10 per bed. We also can use funds to provide clean water. Thank you.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

So what's up in Sierra Leone today?

(Above photo: James distributing bread to the hungry)

James reports from St. Laurence House in Freetown, that little Roo has (Yet Again) taken sick with high fever and vomiting. James informed me that despite the illness Roo continues to eat rice and is taking his vitamins that we sent a few weeks back. More than likely some parasites are wiggling around in him. I am sending some pumpkin seeds for him to eat as they naturally expel parasites from the body.

Pa Foday reports from Kabala that the outside walls of the school have all been plastered with concrete and the inside walls and floor remain. He continues to marvel over the huge size of the structure. The village is so excited and anxious for its completion. They all say it is a miracle to have such a strong, big building for their children to receive an education. Teacher Lucy continues to recover from her appendicitis surgery and is gaining strength.

We received a few much needed donations this week (from LaGrange Georgia, Louisville Kentucky,Columbia South Carolina,Chico California) which will enable us to send some help to St. Laurence House to benefit those in need. Thank you and please help get the word out. With the downturn in the economy, the horrible disasters, understandably) funds for people suffering in Sierra Leone have been pushed way down on the list of priorities. However, regardless of what is going in the world, Sierra Leoneans continue to struggle, continue to live in terrible poverty, continue to be hungry, continue to not find adequate healthcare. We are their hope and we cannot ignore them.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What's New at St. Laurence House?

Daughter, Lucy and son, "Roo", of parents James & Kadijah (our Nazareth House Staff in Freetown, Sierra Leone)send you greetings. Roo shows off the latest pest control of St. Laurence House (our rented staff quarters & medical distribution center).

This little cat needs to grow in order to perform its duties as St. Laurence House Rat Catcher. The rodents over take the city and infiltrate into the homes. A cat is the best deterrent to this problem.

James reports the wire transfer has arrived in Freetown, giving him a little help to make ends meet and tend to needs of a few of those around him. We are still unable to pay the teachers in Kabala adequately or regularly due to the downturn of donations resulting from the economic woes in America. As bad as it is to keep financially afloat here in the States, please understand it is a million times worse for those in Sierra Leone. If we have no money, no health insurance we can go into any hospital emergency room and receive treatment. This is not the case in Sierra Leone, you are turned away - No money for hospital fees means your death in many cases. And if you are lucky enough to be admitted to a hospital the medical supplies are nearly non-existent. This is why Nazareth House is so important in its supplying of medical needs. Most cities in the US have Soup Kitchens that can sustain us with one or two meals a day. In Sierra Leone you scavenge around from camp to camp, village to village and cook pot to cook pot hoping to find maybe enough for one serving of food, let alone a meal.

If you have considered giving your tax rebate (or a portion of it) to Nazareth House we can promise it will make a huge difference in many lives.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Updates from Sierra Leone

James, our director in Freetown sent me this post to be added to today's blog. The internet server in Freetown is very slow today, kicking in and out. James had to type quickly, get the word out and upload the pictures to me. It's remarkable that he got anything out to me at all.

12 May 2008 by James Mansaray, Freetown: Before taking another trip checking on the school construction in Kabala , I had been following events and issues around our beloved Salone the past few weeks. Some good ones and some hurting news. All this seen as part of life. For some it is tolerable whilst for others, not too good at all. As a member of Nazareth House Apostolate, we always spend time as a family to pray asking God to take control over it and wishing we had the support to improve on it.

Sierra Leone was recently aired around the world as paying the highest for petrol, this true. More increase in our staple food rice when there is enough poverty. Recently in Kabala two sad incidents where in a girl killed a young man with a scissors out of frustration (photo above) and a lady cutting her husband’s secret part off just because the husband fails to meet his family needs. More and more beggars around the streets of Freetown asking for a coin or more (photo above Roo w/ soccer ball looking out at beggars lined up in front of St. Laurence House), the new government doing its best trying to improve things. But in the mist of global rising prices few good results are achieved.

With Nazareth House Apostolate on the ground trying to help in our own way few plans were made. Primarily to pray and then ask for more support so that we continue to do our work here. Those who had been checking the blog will find a column where in we made up a plan to help improve swamp rice farming in Kabala. But the question is, can you fix square pegs on round holes?

We trying to bring smiles; are not relenting to ask... but pushing and calling on many to help us meet our goal here. The need for a compound our top priority and more and more needs behind it. Oh how i wish to see this come true because renting a house is one of the biggest killing prey here in Freetown and its getting worst day by day. Ask any resident of Freetown about this and you will hear the different cries about it.

Last night I took time to ponder over the recently made DVD on the work of Nazareth House Apostolate here in Sierra Leone. Little be it or not the pictures said it all. We are up to something but we can’t do this alone.

Two days ago I was doing a picture job at the Freetown golf club down Lumley and I saw three things. A fire dancer impressing a group of people, a beautiful sea view, some small kids walking along the beach carrying heavy stuffs on their heads to help fix a new family home. The last scene spoiled the whole show.

Nazareth House Apostolate is here for it and with your supports we can help bring smiles to many sad faces here. See how this little lad is in this picture.

(Scroll down to see pictures relative to this post...)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

NHA Defense Plan re: Rice Price Increase


Hey Mama,
Luckily i got this figure from Pa Foday Sunday night on the rice extension thing. See how best you can go through. I had to straight up some things in it to make it well understood. He too wants to know you response. Will write more on other issues after this.


This kind of project usually covers and involved lot of things. Below are listed the yearly expenditure of a five acre swamp rice farm.

1. SEEDLING: The total amount of rice seedling needed for this kind of project (5 acre) swamp is two bags of swamp rice.
2. AMOUNT: The cost for a full bag of swamp rice is one hundred and twenty thousand leones. So two bags should be around two hundred and forty thousand leones.
3. TOOLS: This includes ten hoes and ten cutlasses. Each of these tools cost ten thousand leones each making it to a total of two hundred thousand leones on tools.
4. WORKMANSHIP/ LABOUR: The labor cost for the day for one laborer is ten thousand leones per day.($3.49 per worker, per day) Usually, ten laborers are needed for a day to get a whole job done. This will sum up to one hundred thousand leones per day on labour
5. FEEDING: The amount needed for feeding for ten people per day is sixty thousand leones for both rice and plassas(soup). (10 workers, plus meal equals $54 per day)
6. CARE TAKING: This involved fencing, weeding and brushing around the farm. Three people are needed for this. fifteen thousand leones each per day to meet these areas which will sum up to forty five thousand leones per day.
7. RENTAGE: Most of these swamps are owned by people so we have to pay some amount either in cash or in kind for each swamp. Years back I do pay a five full bags of swamp rice to the owner. This will sum up to six hundred thousand leones.

The above estimate is for one swamp rice in Kabala , when I was strong enough some years back, I do work five big swamps starting May and ends up in December when we starting harvesting. There might be some slight changes in some of the cost for labour, tools and materials but this is a rough estimate per swamp.

From the above, the total for a single rice swamp is: One million two hundred and forty five thousand leones. (Tuesday, May 6, 2008: 1,245,000 Sierra Leone Leone = 423.157 US Dollar) Excluding feeding, care taking and labor. These three are checked by day. So see how best you can add those three daily amounts to the above amount.


At this stage of the game, WE believe the $425 for the swamp rice seed & tools is doable. Our trouble comes in the 8 months at $54 a day labor. (We are struggling to provide aid to those in need now with donations dropping due to the American economy woes.) That would be $13,000 plus dollars for the project...or $1,625 per month but that is counting weekend and workers will not be working re-figured excluding weekends comes to $9504 for the 8 month growing season bringing us down to just under $1200 per month. The COMPOUND remains a MUST DO. Donations are already down. There is no doubt everything we are hoping to accomplish is important and very much required to minister daily survival to many many people. How do we do it? We need your comments, your thoughts on how to pull it together and make it a reality! PLEASE RESPOND, LET US HEAR FROM YOU!

Monday, May 5, 2008





Dear Mama Hicks,

The word on Aunt Nancy is encouraging and we continue to pray for her everyday. We wont like to see he transcend on away from us so soon. Thanks for being around her through all this.

I am still struggling to get pictures uploaded here. I had even reduced the picture size to the smallest size in my last pictures but still cant get it up. The problem is with the server i guess. I am spending more and more time and just cant do even one. Before it was not like that. I will try again later today ok.

Please see if you can send us small money to cover some of our bills. Both the electric and water rates are very very high the last few weeks. This morning again they sent us a whole lot. I hate to ask but i just cant meet that at this moment.

Depends on if post comes and brings medications in well this week, i am planning on making a trip to give out some of those medications and update pictures of the school.

Prices are flying everyday here on food stuffs, rice and now petrol etc. Its crazy to live here these days. I am finding it harder and harder to help out others.

I am still around on internet so maybe we will hook up in a chat some how. I am working on the pictures -trying to send them to you.

More later.


Following the recent global increase on petrol, Sierra Leone was said to be paying more for it. It has been customary a thing here for us to be the last in everything especially in terms of development but here we are today leading the fuel crisis.

Majority were shocked for this big news whilst others were not too surprise to hear this. The problem now lies with those who had to deal with it and from my own point of view, we are all involved and this will surely affect even the youngest baby.

Looking at this increase, I took time to talk to few vehicle drivers- lets say Taxi's and Poda Poda drivers and also those selling it in some filling stations.

"Albert" a taxi driver stationed near the Congo cross police station said he just cant afford it so he has no choice but to buy Jebu jebu fuel( black market) the first few morning hours till he has enough to buy more gallons in the fuel stations. Reasons for this according to him is that, he takes the petrol on loan and then pay after making few runs, this you cant do in the fuel stations. There are several disadvantages having it this way, one, not a full gallon, you have to struggling getting this in to the car etc. But according to him this is his best idea. He sometimes lost his passengers if the car happens to run out of gas.

"Pa Mata" one of the oldest struggling taxi driver I knew running the Signal hill Wilberforce route with his old taxi said I just cant meet this at all. My passengers are always making mention about my old car and it does burn a whole lot of fuel. Most say they can't pay the exact taxi fare and for fuel to increase I just cant run it. He said he would have to find money somewhere to have enough gas before running it.

Alimamy Bangura, the Manager at the Abardeen filling station says the increase in fuel had made sales to drop for them. They too had no choice but to do what the boss says.

My fear is, whenever there is an increase in petrol, all other commodities takes a different higher level. The last view weeks we had sensed the drastic increase in our staple food rice, not talking of nut oil and palm oil. Even the list washing soap, Baby food and baking flour is on the increase. ROO my little boy can snack on a one thousand leones piece of bread and then ask for more in few minutes. These are the effects that am talking about. Should things continue like this, what would it be like?

All this talks of Freetown. An increase in Freetown gives more room for increase on everything in Kabala and other sub areas around the country. This I have no doubt of.

Now, all those who can't meet to the taxi fare increase, either walked their way to town or squeezed like sardines in the crowded Poda Podas. And this is no safe journey even if you are making a two hundred meters drive, not talking of the bad sweats and different odors in it.

This is what it is like and we pray not for more increase in this precious liquid. We have had enough.



Fuel in Sierra Leone

Friday, May 2, 2008

Sierra Leoneans pay most for fuel!!!!!!

Those of us in Sierra Leone have known for a long time about high gas prices, now the world knows just how much the tiny war-torn, poverty stricken nation of Sierra Leone must pay for a gallon of gas! Outrageous! I will have more to report from Freetown and share about this soon. Please check back. James has been trying to email the pictures and report to me about the high gas prices but the servers in the internet cafes have not cooperated. Keep checking back, we'll get the news to you.

If this is your first visit to the blog, scroll through previous posts for the latest in news from our work in Sierra Leone. thank you.