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 Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill 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.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
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 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 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 Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
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 Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
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 Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
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