Assemblyman Ed Ra (center-left) presents a Resolution from the New York State Assembly to Salifu Kamara (center-right), Alexandra Bieler (left) and Alexandra Kadell (right) honoring their efforts to improve education in Sierra Leone.
“Salifu is an example of incredible perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, and an inspiration to all of us concerned about the plight of human rights around the globe,” said Ra. “It is in this spirit that the students of Carey High School have put their efforts into raising assistance and awareness about the ongoing violence in Sierra Leone. Our community should be especially proud of Miss Bieler and Miss Kadell for building support for peace and an end to human suffering in a part of the world which has known misery for far too long.”
In the mid-1990s, soldiers raided Salifu’s village, raping and murdering his entire family. Subsequently, Salifu was kidnapped and forced into war efforts as a child soldier. When Salifu refused to participate in gruesome murders, soldiers responded by breaking the bones in his legs. Salifu’s survival provided him with motivation and inspiration, eventually allowing him to receive a scholarship to study at American University. Grateful for his opportunity to further his education in the United States, Salifu told Carey students his dream to rebuild Freetown and present children of the village with the opportunity to receive an education. Salifu explained to the students that education is one of the most powerful means to restore his village and keep children out of harm’s way.
In response to Salifu’s story, Carey High School students and the Voices Unheard Club intervened and took up the challenge to fulfill Salifu’s dream to raise money for schoolchildren in his village, directing efforts to provide essential school supplies, such as pens, pencils, books, desks, and chairs that schools in Freetown lack. As part of their fundraising efforts, students sold ice cream and crafted paper school houses and paper children, which were hung in the hallways of Carey High School to spread awareness for their cause. Together, the students turned tragedy into hope, and despair into happiness. Salifu expressed hope and gratitude when he explained that, “I don’t want my past to control my future, or else the soldiers won. Instead, I want to take this new opportunity afforded to me by God to bring hope to children in my village and throughout the world, and the Carey students are helping to spread this hope. I am so grateful for their help.”