News / Africa

Peace Corps Volunteer Returns to Help Sierra Leone School

Steve Kruse and Salifu Mansaray first met more than 40 years ago when Kruse was a Peace Corps volunteer and Mansaray was a boy who had just stolen bread from a bakery
Steve Kruse and Salifu Mansaray first met more than 40 years ago when Kruse was a Peace Corps volunteer and Mansaray was a boy who had just stolen bread from a bakery

Multimedia

Audio

On the 50th anniversary of the creation of the U.S. Peace Corps, some former volunteers are returning to the countries where they served as teachers, health care workers or agricultural advisors. 



Steve Kruse and Salifu Mansaray first met more than 40 years ago when Kruse was a Peace Corps volunteer and Mansaray was a boy who had just stolen bread from a bakery.

"I learned that he wasn't in school," recalls Kruse. "So I put him in school and he came after school to do some work, to help around the house.  One thing led to another.  He ended up moving in with me.  His mother had passed away."

"I was also sick.  I had a wound on my stomach," Mansaray explains. "And, all this I came to Steve to love me.  I had no one to take care of me.  My family was very poor."

Steve Kruse
Steve Kruse

The men lost contact when Kruse returned to the United States.  He worried about his friend during Sierra Leone's long civil war.

"I would try and watch the news and the only news out of Sierra Leone then was bad news.," Kruse says. "And, I was worried.  We heard about all the amputations and all the killings.  I wasn't sure he was able to survive that or avoid that."

 

After the war, Kruse found an e-mail address for the legislator who represents the district near the border with Guinea and wrote to him asking about Mansaray, who had become a police sergeant in the capital, Freetown.

Salifu Mansaray
Salifu Mansaray

"Imagine when you lose contact with someone for 30 years and you get it again.  It is a universal happiness.  I had to think that 'I am back with Steve,' even though I couldn't see him," Mansaray says.

Fifty years after the start of Peace Corps and 50 years since Sierra Leone's independence,  Kruse returned to Bafodia, where, on evening walks down the same dirt streets, Sergeant Mansaray is still called Salifu "Peace Corps."

The men visited former student Kottor Decker, who started school late because his father kept him home to work the family farm.

"When I went to school, my father drove me out of the house by saying that I would not go to school because I am the only son to work for him on his farm," recalls Decker.

By the time Decker got to Kruse's grammar school class, he was only three years younger than his young American teacher.

"A lot of people don't have the opportunity to go to school," explains Kruse. "They may have to work in the fields and on the farms.  So a number of the students may go to school for one year.  Be out one year.  So they attend school when they can or when they can afford it."

Remembering how hard it was to keep kids in school, Kruse and Mansarary came back to Bafodia, not only to renew old friendships but to help their former school.

"We brought supplies for the school kids, Salifu and I, and I would like to see that anyone who wants to go to school will have the chance to go to school," Kruse says.  "So the plan is to try to offer some scholarships for children to start school."

"We have come back to help the people of Bafodia with books," adds Mansaray.  "And, Steve is also determined to have a few scholarships for some of the pupils.  And, in fact we are thinking of more assistance for this township."

It is a small-scale, entirely personal contribution by Kruse, his friends and his family - inspired by a life-changing Peace Corps experience.

"It gave me the opportunity to think of places other than just what your familiar surroundings are," Kruse says. "I grew up in Kansas, lived in Tennessee and all of a sudden you have an exposure to a whole world out there, a huge world and places like this become like your second home."

Kruse wondered how he would feel coming back after so many years, but little has changed.  There is still no electricity in Bafodia.  People still get their water from a forest spring.

With Peace Corps volunteers now back in Sierra Leone 15 years after pulling out during the civil war, Kruse and Mansaray hope another young American will be sent to this village where their friendship is helping keep children in school.

 

See our special report on the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs