This blog was written by Aminata Gba Kamara, one of our young volunteers in Sierra Leone. She is a national volunteer working on the ‘Savings Lives II’ programme for 10 months, as a ‘Community Mobiliser’.
“I was born two decades ago into a family where women and girls are warriors.”
My life completely changed when Ebola came to my community. When the Ebola outbreak devastated Sierra Leone in 2014, I saw the full force of the chaos that ensued. I saw friends and family members, including my own mother—a nurse who had cared for the sick—die of the virus. Girls whose parents died of Ebola were incredibly vulnerable: often forced to marry, raped, or ostracised from schools and communities out of fear of them spreading the virus.
Following a 21 day quarantine, I was abandoned by my community, and, in order to escape poverty and sexual exploitation, I moved from Freetown to Makeni with my elder brother. Here, I began a beading business to empower myself. My beading work, which includes sandals and slippers, not only helped me and my brother financially, but gave me a new lease of life and a positive focus amidst the destabilisation felt throughout Sierra Leone. I am now an entrepreneur and an advocate of economic empowerment for women in Sierra Leone. I am also a former Global Leader for Restless Development.
I strongly believe in the potential of young women and men to escape poverty and exploitation through economic empowerment. I have seen first-hand the risks for children and women in the aftermath of a pandemic, with many forced into prostitution. To help combat these risks, I run workshops and campaigns in schools providing career support and skills training sessions to help young people realise their true potential.
My life as an advocate started way back in junior secondary school as a debater, and I later became a radio presenter for the Youth and Children’s Advocacy Network (YACAN), where I hosted a talk show that advocates for young people’s participation in decision-making and children’s rights. I was appointed as an Ambassador, by the then First Lady HE Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma, for the National Girls Camp from 2014 to 2016 where I served as Marshal.
“Don’t be afraid to fight for what you want, even if things are going slower than you would like—remember, slow motion is better than no motion”
I have had the opportunity to travel and represent my country, on different platforms around the world, in countries like the United Arab Emirates, Georgia, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco, and Senegal (alongside the former First Lady), where I spoke about issues affecting children and young people.
I am passionate about sharing my story to inspire action from policymakers on the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDGs 1 [no poverty], 3 [good health and well-being] and 5 [gender equality]. I hope to continue the conversation on the impact of deadly diseases on current—and future—generations of Africans. If we are committed and consistent, we can all ignite change.
My journey with Restless Development as one of the Youth Power Global Leaders, who have been working relentlessly to see women and girls involved in decision-making about the development of their country and the world, motivated me to volunteer in Sierra Leone as a community mobiliser for the Saving Lives project. The project is saving lives of women and children by improving the quality, availability, and accessibility of reproductive, maternal, newborn and children’s health services across Sierra Leone. And here, I am still pressing for progress taking ‘the unpredictable female warrior queen’ as my name.
I call myself ‘the unpredictable female warrior’ because when I look at the things I have gone through and that I am still going through that is how I feel. And sometimes it is important to reflect, tap myself on the shoulder for a job well done and say a big thank you to the Lord.
My advice to my fellow girls and young people out there is this;Prioritise your priorities, then someone will make you their priority. Never underestimate yourself because of what society thinks of you. Don’t be afraid to fight for what you want, even if things are going slower than you would like—remember, slow motion is better than no motion, and from challenges we get the chance to make changes. Don’t back off when the going gets tough. But, most importantly, don’t forget to be dedicated to what you are doing and be disciplined while doing it. With a lot of determination, you will get there… above all, don’t forget to pray when the road is rough. Don’t stop pressing for progress until your future is green.
To read more about Restless Development’s work in Sierra Leone, you can follow our work there on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.