My Background //
My name is Mohamed Salia, 27 years old. I was born in Sierra Leone, a small country on the west coast of Africa. I studied peace and conflict studies because I wanted to heal my country after years of civil war. Sierra Leone experienced a ten year civil war that disorganized and claimed the lives of many innocent people. My experience in the war left a picture in my memory which later on, as I grew up, motivated me to put an end to violence and injustice.
I dream of a world where all Sierra Leoneans can achieve justice and prosperity.
I can still remember the beginning of the war, although I was only 10. One night, our village was attacked by rebels. My father grabbed me from my sleeping mat, carried me on his shoulders, and ran into the dark bush behind our house. I was still feeling sleepy as he struggled through sticks and stones, running into the jungle. All I could feel was the cool wind and people shouting from a distance. He was running very fast. We bumped into a tree and fell to the floor. I felt a sharp pain on my left arm: it had broken. But there was no time for crying. My father grabbed me again and continued to run.
My mum and sister had also escaped with other families. We found each other again after two months. For two years we lived in the bush, surviving on fruits and small animals we could hunt. After a few months, food started to run scarce and at night we had to risk going back to our village in search of provisions. It was in one of these nights that we were attacked. My sister was captured, raped and killed.
The situation in our region became worse and my father took me to the capital. He was afraid that some of my childhood friends who had become rebels would forcefully conscript me. We became refugees and found shelter at the national stadium together with thousands of other war victims, sleeping on the floor, yearning for a life of peace.
The Day My Life Changed //
While at the stadium, two remarkable things happened which later marked the turning point in my life.
When I was 14 years old, two months before school re-opened, my father gave me $ 50 USD to buy my text books. Three days later, my friend told me that his mother, a widow, had not cooked dinner for about a week because she had no money. They used to live from selling cakes, but the business had collapsed.
While he was explaining, I remembered my text book money. The next day, I went to my friend's mother and explained that I wish to lend her the money to re-start her cake business. There was only one condition: she should return the money within two months, so that I could buy my text books without my father noticing. She started selling cakes again and exactly after two months she paid back the money.
With the raised profits she bought another bag of flour to sell even more cakes.
My encounter with the widow stimulated me to put an end to injustice, to do something for my country and my people. Therefore, Almost three years ago I started a community base social project called:
SEED-Supporting Entrepreneurship and Economic Development(http://seedsierraleone.blogspot.com/ ) with the aim and objective to empower war affected widows and youths through microloan and skills training in order to enable them start up or enhance small scale business in their villages or communities.
Through my initiative, today I have been able to empower more than 100 women and youths who have successfully starting or enhancing their small scale business (petty trading, sales of agriculture products etc).
Why I Wish to Attend StartingBloc //
My goal of attending the StartingBloc fellowship training program is to learn all the requisite skills I need to kick-start and manage my dream venture. It’s my desire also that through the DC 15 training I would have the opportunity to connect with experience mentors and co-fellows who will advice and guide me in shaping my venture for success and helping me overcome life time challenges.
My dream is to kick-start and manages a successful social venture with the aim to economically and socially empower women and youths affected by the past sierra Leonean war and now mining through microloan and human right. Combining economic with human right empowerment will help build a
Sierra Leonean society where people are economically empowered enough and aware of their basic fundamental rights. This will help them demand their rights from the Government and mining companies, and in turn makes government and mining companies not just bypass the people’s participation in agreements that profoundly affect their lives.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story! Your donations are received with gratitude and love.
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