I cannot imagine being in labour and forced to trek miles and miles in the hope to deliver in safe conditions. One woman I met Kula, delivered her baby on the side of the road in the dark with the threat of snakes and other dangerous animals to contend with. She had walked miles from her village to the one where we met to hire a canoe. She didn't make it as far as the village before she gave birth and her baby only made it as far as the water's edge when it passed away as she waited for two hours for a canoe to take her and her newborn baby to the clinic. Kula's story shocked Kate and I to the core. We were overwhelmed with grief for her.
This human cost should not be forgotten. Rather it should be central to any anti-poaching policy. If we do not change the conversation, this evil trade will only continue unabated. With any luck, an acknowledgement of the economic and security implications of this poaching crisis may help formulate a more nuanced response that will save Africa's great wildlife before it is too late.
Sierra Leone should be one of the most prosperous countries in West Africa, with its diamonds, iron ore and bauxite reserves. Yet, the vast majority of its people live in grinding poverty, and the country has the fourth highest maternal mortality rate in the world. On health, though, it is making progress.
Recent conflicts have meant that children of war are quite rightly at the forefront of everyone's minds, and I want to tell you how we can help them. I recently saw with my own eyes just how devastating the long-term effects of war are on generations of children when I travelled with ActionAid to Sierra Leone.
It is imperative that post-Millennium Development Goals, currently being negotiated, do not overlook the plight of the disabled people and children. It is time for concrete action to ensure that particularly children with disabilities have access to education, protection from violence and abuse; and opportunity to have their voices heard. This is not just a development agenda it is also a human rights issue.
Sitting on the rooftop of Gladys's juice bar in Freetown, I was having an informal chat with some of the women my foundation supports. This wasn't my first trip to Sierra Leone. I was there for International Women's Day in March and had spoken then to some of the women. But this time I got to have a long, in depth conversation with them about the difficulties they have faced as women entrepreneurs and what benefits they get from participating in the country's first network for women entrepreneurs, which is what the Foundation has helped to set up here.
Many in the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces found his level of ambition to be intimidating. For others, his leadership style was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale department. Nevertheless it was this ambition, and his leadership abilities, that brought him to the very top of his profession.
As the plane touched down in Freetown, my thoughts turned to my baby son, at home. I'd come to a country where one in five children dies before the age of five. I'd read that fact over and over again and - as I stepped onto the dusty tarmac in Sierra Leone - a mixture of guilt and relief mingled inside, knowing my own flesh and blood was healthy and safe.
Like Justine Greening, I can't understand the arguments made by some against spending 0.7% of GNI to relieve suffering overseas. They should remember that 7p in every £10 is a small slice of our national income when compared with the spectre of people dying unnecessarily, living without access to education or even clean water.
In the week that Kenyans went to the polls I was reminded of a morning three months ago walking through the streets of Freetown, Sierra Leone. The pace of the country's capital was not at its usual frantic level. Queues were steadily forming around voting booths, observers busy checking materials, and polling station staff working from morning to late into the night. It was the 17 November 2012, election day in Sierra Leone.