By Aaron Kaye, Kiva Fellow, Sierra Leone
What comes to mind when you think of Sierra Leone? Many people know virtually nothing about the country or perhaps might be able to point to Blood Diamond, the recent film that dramatized the horrible fighting that shook the country in the last decade. Having lived in Freetown, the capital, for a couple months, a variety of different images come to mind for me. One of the most beautiful is the country’s stunning beaches and the great people I’ve met there.
A handful of beaches can be found about an hour from Freetown and provide a relaxed break from city life. They have names like Bawbaw, Tokeh, River Number 2, Bureh, and Kent. Each beach has a slightly different character, a different village population who will offer visitors a place to rest, even different types of sand. Yet all of them offer tranquility and scenes befitting a postcard.
Could the beaches present an attractive tourist destination and help rebuild tourism to Sierra Leone? It’s possible. And years ago there were some small resorts targeted at tourists. Throngs of people would certainly change the atmosphere there, but I’m hopeful that a reasonable level would both bring business to the local economy and reward travelers with a great experience.