Salone News

Sierra Leonean’s Project Revives War-torn Town in Tonkolili

5 July 2007 at 01:24 | 221 views

By Abayomi Charles Roberts, Edmonton.

Canada is on the lips of every man, woman and child in a small town called Ro-Mano in the Tonkolili district of Sierra Leone. This is thanks to the resourcefulness, determination and kindness of one of their own, Memunatu Dura-Kamara(photo).

Since she arrived in Canada, in 2001, she has ’turned back’ to help the town in its uphill task of rebuilding after the war.

Memuna, as she is called for short, fled the war and spent some years in neighbouring Guinea before she was resettled in Canada by the UNHCR. She arrived in North America without several members of her family, some of whom were killed or went missing - and are feared dead.

She had a tough time as a refugee in Guinea but Memuna’s resolve to help others soon saw her as one of the refugee leaders in one UNHCR camp in western Guinea. She did her best among grossly deprived and traumatized compatriots who had invariably lost everything and barely escaped with their lives. The persecution they suffered at the hands of some of their Guniean hosts only made things worse.

Still Mumuna excelled in representing the interests of the hundreds of Sierra Leoneans who had placed their trust and hopes in her. This she did, dealing with greedy and hostile Guinean security personnel and civilians, and overwhelmed UNHCR staff. Before long few camp residents knew her real name. Everybody refered to her as ’Our Chairlady.

The Patriotic Vanguard recently zoomed on her exemplary project. She has even convinced a few Canadians to help her as she spearheded the building of structures for schools, a health centre and a mosque. In the beginning she raised funds by organizing a dance, to supplement her own savings and gifts from Canadians who helped her and her kids to settle down and adjust in their new home.She plans to do even more, as she gains more and more credibility.

Quite a few of the donor Canadians have, understandably, visited the town to see the progress made so far. Now Memuna clearly needs more assistance to help bring Ro-mano "back to life" as she said in one interview with Vanguard.

"I started off with my own little money, just to show my sincerity," she says. "ive come this far but it has not been easy; only the sad memories keep me going." She is now looking beyond her own purse and the few Canadians (in Edmonton) who have been aiding her cause. Memuna appeals to other individuals and groups/agencies anywhere outside Edmonton (and, indeed, Canada) to pitch in as a goodwill gesture.

The Edmonton community bears testimony as portrayed in a newspaer cutting, captioned: ’I just want to help my people.’ An excerpt in the Sunday December 11, 2005 edition of The Edmonton Journal, reads:

"In the living room of her rented Rundle Heights townhouse, Memunatu Dura Kamara watches video footage from a rural village in Sierra Leone. Scores of children are happy in their blue school uniforms. Dancing girls sing praises for the woman who "went to the white people’s country ...."

The video’s centrepiece is a humble nine-room building, made of homemade bricks, with a metal roof. It is the pride of Romano...It is named the Alberta Canada Primary School, in honour of the generous Canadians who donated to Kamara’s efforts to see it built."

Memuna, a christian, is a product of St. Joseph’s secondary school in Makeni.

Soon, the Vanguard will bring you a more comprehensive report on Memuna, along with quite telling photos. Watch this space.