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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora