Luggage and bags:
We basically had most of our personal stuff in just backpacks/carryons. Some of it was stuffed in all of our boxes full of stuff for the hospital, schools, and etc etc....be careful at the airport--guys will pick your bag up for you and carry it for you but will not leave you alone until you pay them. Sierra Nat'l Airlines has stricter baggage policies than other airlines also. Oh, and keep important things on you--maybe not your carry-on...there aren't too many rules or at least enforcement against workers going through passengers' luggage for whatever reason...they were on our flight-- taking money, etc. On another team, a laptop and digital camera were taken out of the carry-on and have not been seen since. Watch out for that too. But overall it's not as scary as it sounds, just be extra careful.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Bring comfortable walking shoes!! This is a must. We also bought comfy sandals in the market in Freetown and such, which helped air our feet out on days we didn't have to walk as much. It's really muggy and humid there (80+ deg F on average--in the winter/dry season), so bring lightweight, "breathable" clothing and accessories. Wouldn't hurt to bring some kind of rain gear, but some days rain might cool you down, so be flexible always. [Jan. 03]
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Keep in mind that the water is not drinkable. This includes brushing your teeth. We never saw but one mirror in a public place (hotel, shop, etc)...it's not part of their culture. So, bring one if you're concerned about how you look. Stock up on Pepto Bismol (liquid, chewable or caplet)...it is advised to take one dose of liquid daily, or a chewable at every meal, or a dosage of the caplet form at every meal. This prevents diahrrea and maybe others "ailments" too. If you get sick once, it just doesn't go away immediately...so be prepared. We also took malaria preventitive meds as well everyday. Doxycycline (I think) and another one--ask a doctor. Malaria is another bad disease to get. Be prepared for blisters and sunburn. It's extremely easy to sunburn. Bring insect repellent (with high deet levels), because that will help to not have itchiness and/or malaria, etc. [Jan. 03]
Photo Equipment: If you are me--or anything like me, bring LOTS of film. There's a lot to take pictures of. It's a totally different world and lots of new things to discover. Kids (and some adults) love having their "shot" taken. They have all kinds of gestures and words to communicate to you to take a picture of them. Be sure you have a flash, because kids wait for the flash to go off and then they start dancing around in celebration. If it doesn't flash, you better get really excited to "tell" them that you got their picture. It's a lot of fun!!! [Jan. 03]
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Bring a flashlight...It gets really dark. Not all places have electricity or generators going at night, so it gets really dark. Also, it's always nice to be able to go plunge in the river for a swim. Make sure it's a safe place and don't stay in for too long (all kinds of disease concerns, but it's not often at all that someone really gets sick from swimming). You probably won't get many locals to join you in the water (they'll all be on the beach watching!) because there are evil spirits in the water according to their traditional beliefs. This varies on the continent, but just be aware of this. OH...and one more thing, you've probably heard by now that villages near rivers especially use the rivers for defecation purposes (official word) at a certain spot and then get drinking water from a nearby spot, sometimes downriver (you can imagine how healthy this is). But anyways, try to avoid these areas if at all possible. (Or start popping the Pepto!) :-) [Jan. 03]
Miscellaneous: One more thing, bring a water bottle (especially if you're going to be "upcountry") or set aside money for special bottled drinking water. As mentioned in the camping part, water isn't very drinkable, so if this is the one precautionary health measure you take, this is the one to take!!! Water is very important! You can't possibly drink too much water while in that part of the world--it's a lot easier to get dehydrated, and then prone to kidney stones. Drink wisely! [Jan. 03]
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: This is Mary Tymes, a producer for AP, she was killed Jan. 10, 2002, when gunmen opened fire on her vehicle at a checkpoint in Sierra Leone, which is torn by civil unrest between rebels and the government. She was 24 and wearing a bullet proof vest.
Luggage and bags:
Hard scale bags preferbly. Closed AND LOCKED
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Sierra Leone is hot all year. It can be havely raining
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Take evrything there yourself. You never know wheather something is available or not.
Photo Equipment: Take something simple, not interesting for thieves.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Not possible, not safe.