News / Africa

Sierra Leone in Paralympics for First Time

Mohamed Kamara and his coach, Abu Bakar Conteh, warm up before a training session ahead of the 2012 Paralympic. (VOA - N. deVries)Mohamed Kamara and his coach, Abu Bakar Conteh, warm up before a training session ahead of the 2012 Paralympic. (VOA - N. deVries)
x
Mohamed Kamara and his coach, Abu Bakar Conteh, warm up before a training session ahead of the 2012 Paralympic. (VOA - N. deVries)
Mohamed Kamara and his coach, Abu Bakar Conteh, warm up before a training session ahead of the 2012 Paralympic. (VOA - N. deVries)

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — For the first time in history an athlete from Sierra Leone is competing in the Paralympic games which take place in London at the end of August.

 

Mohamed Kamara's coach shouts commands at his young athlete who bolts across an empty football (soccer) field in Freetown,  the capital city of Sierra Leone.

 

Sweat drips down Kamara's face as he makes his own record time of 11.45 seconds covering 100 meters. 

 

The 22-year-old is doing last minute training before his trip to London next week.

 

He is competing in sprint running and has been training six times a week, four to five hours-a-day for the past seven months. 

 

Kamara says he is determined to win a medal for his country.  "I'm going to do it, I'm going to prove it, to take the Salone flag higher. To take the nation higher," he said. 

 

Like most athletes Kamara knows he has to work hard to get ahead.  And he says he is ready for the challenge.

 

But this journey has not been easy. 

 

Kamara was just a child when a civil war hit Sierra Leone in the 1990s. 

 

During that time rebel fighters were notorious for cutting off people's limbs. 

 

Kamara was just one of thousands of victims. 

 

He remembers the day the rebels attacked his home. "And so they chopped our hands and they killed my mother and father in front of me," he said. 

 

He managed to escape from the brutal scene. And a man eventually found him hiding in a bush and brought him to the hospital for treatment.

 

His entire arm had to be amputated because of his hand being cut off. 

 

Kamara's relatives heard where he was and took him in.

 

He says as a child he was constantly teased because of his disability. So to clear his mind he decided to start running as a hobby. 

 

He says he did not want to live a life that so many amputees do.  "I don't want to go to the streets and beg," he said. 

 

Little did he know running would one day get him to the point of competing.

 

In 2002 he was discovered by a track coach Abu Bakar Conteh.   

 

They have been training together ever since. 

 

This coach says his athlete's drive is unstoppable. "He's a man with dedication, he's a man with talent, he's a man with determination …so all those difficulties and discouragement he does absorb it and take courage for himself in order to pursue his talent," he said. 

 

Kamara's family is also proud of how far the young athlete has come. His uncle Hamid Bangura says he will be glued to a television set when his nephew competes. "I'm very happy because he is going to participate for the country. I'm so glad over that," he said. 

 

Back on the football field, Kamara explains that there have been financial challenges for him too because his family lives hand to mouth. 

 

He says the Paralympic committee does pay for some expenses such as travel to London and accommodations there. 

 

But the day to day things like food and transportation for practice come out of his own pocket.  " I don't have sufficient food to eat for the competition," he said. 

 

Still, it is the thought of the competition and what representing his country could mean for other physically challenged people that keeps him going.

 

He says amputees are so marginalized right now in Sierra Leone and he wants to give them a voice and show that they are just as good as anyone else and can accomplish anything they set their minds to. 

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More