My name is Kineh Sam N’Gaojia. I was a US Army Soldier. I was born and raised till the age of 9 in Sierra Leone, West Africa. My biological mother, Aggie Lebby Tommy, remained in Sierra Leone until June 4, 2007, when she passed away.
I returned to Sierra Leone on July 9, 2007 after 2 tours in Bacquba, Iraq, where I was when my mother passed away. Having been away for 26 years I had no idea what to expect when I reached home. Overall I was joyful for being home, although my homecoming was not for a celebratory event. My reception was truly unforgettable. My village was there excited to see me all grown-up. People came to see me and celebrate my mother’s life 40th day after her death. Also they heard that I was dead and claimed that my mother had these same thoughts which eventually drove her to her grave.
Nonetheless I loved my mother, my country and my people very much and have missed them dearly. While I was there I spend a lot of time with the young children of the village, we bonded and attended church. The endless amounts of time we spend talking help me to conclude, they really needed help to continue their education. I urged them each to write a letter describing their economic struggle and educational ambition in hopes of intervention by a sympathetic donor in America.
I was fascinated by their passion for school and their fight to want to find success in order to help their families. I realized their school fees including uniforms were not expensive in terms of the US dollar exchange rate ($1.00 = Le3, 000.00). But I being a career Soldier, with my wife and I having a family of nine children our finances are not good. But I have a burning desire to help these children because they are the country’s future. I noticed these children had dreams but lacked hope. The only thing they knew of life as we have in America was what they saw in magazines or movies.
Since I was once in their place, with no shoes, I became their living example. I explained that through great education anything is possible. Because it was education that took my father to America and then send for me and both of us came from this same small village. Hard work, dedication and a strong faith in GOD will always help you achieve your goals. My people lived in pure poverty, I was entirely disturbed.
I saw children drinking water from puddles in the road, kids without shoes on their feet or shorts or pants because all that was available were a t-shirt. They were receiving one meal a day if they were lucky, because their mother or father was not able to work the farm since their arms and feet have been cut off by rebels during the 11 year civil war. Even though the war has been over since 2001, the people and the village are still in shambles. Many homes, schools and churches were burned down.
Lots of children lost their family support and became orphans, forced to live with other family members who have very little or no resources. Their lives have turned into daily struggles of existence and they see no end to it. The entire country is in a blackout, with no electricity or running water. Water is carried in buckets on their heads either from a stream or well miles away. You have to navigate your way in the dark either by candle or a flashlight if you are lucky to get around at night.
The homes are made of mud and sticks. The roof leaks all over during the rainy season (from late June through mid September) and we arrived here in the 2007 raining season. To them it was no problem to go to sleep in a soaked bed or to wake-up in one with water dripping on their head. The bedroom in these homes contained no other furniture except a bed filled with straw and a cover sheet which is used to sleep on. Coincidently this type of bed was enough for my own mother who died in her home looking up at the same leaking holes in this so-called roof, hoping that her son would come to save her or maybe just see her, so she could hug and hold him again. But I never came until she was gone and now I found myself laying in the same bed wishing she was here. Her grave is right outside of the shack.
Upon our arrival in the Village I walked to her and got on my knees and prayed with her and that moment I apologized to her and promised that I will not let my 2 sisters, my niece or her 2 grandchildren live in this environment. I pledged that from that day forward I will spend my life helping my people until one day when Njala Komboya will have a hospital, running water, electricity and cement floors in their homes. Now I realize that these are enormous dreams and promises and I have no money, but I believe in GOD wholeheartedly. He has spared me when I was stabbed 15 times in Germany, saved me when I was shot in the chest, brought me back from Iraq twice, 3 times from Bosnia and gave me a successful recovery from a terrible divorce. So I figured if anyone knows the power of GOD, it was me. As for my dear mother, everywhere I went and with anyone I spoke, they expressed to me, how kind, thoughtful and considerate my mother was. They would say she didn’t have money to give, but she would give you the shirt off her back and always made sure you had a meal. She was also a mid-wife and the local nurse, so she would walk for miles to deliver medicine and attend to the sick and less fortunate, my mother left a great legacy and I vow to preserve that legacy by any means necessary. May GOD BLESS HER SOUL!
The first consideration is to establish a foundation in the memory of my mother. However, many other options will be studied and looked at shortly.