Mariatu Kamara grew up in a small village in Sierra Leone, surrounded by family and friends. At first, rumours of the civil war were no more than a distant worry. But then the rebels attacked. Heavily armed soldiers, some no older than twelve-year-old Mariatu herself, attacked her village, torturing her brutally and killing many of the people she loved. During this senseless violence, they cut off both her hands.
Miraculously, Mariatu survived. Then began her journey of recovery, from the African Bush to begging in the streets of Freetown, and ultimately to a new life in North America.
This is an amazing story of courage, strength and hope. To start with Mariatu had an ideal upbringing, loved by her family and making plans for her future, but that is all disrupted by the rebels who invade her village and kill many she knew. She was spared, but had to have a punishment metered out. They didn’t give her a choice, they cut off her hands.
With a strength few of us would understand, Mariatu made it through the jungle paths to Port Loko, where she was immediately taken to a hospital. There she found most of her family and was able to rejoice in being with family once more.
Once she is recovered, her family are moved toAberdeen, an amputee refugee camp. Conditions are squalid to say the least. But here we see a selfish young girl, battling to understand all of the terror and pain that has happened to her. Her journey from selfishness to healing is remarkable, and one that will haunt me for years to come.