Mohamed Nabieu and Dr. Steven Aruna in Sierra Leone, alumni of the CRC

Leading the Way Out of Poverty in Africa: Part Three

This is the last of a three series posts about about Mohamed Nabieu’s  journey from narrowly escaping a fate as a boy soldier during Sierra Leone’s horrific civil war to leading the Child Rescue Center. Need to catch up? Here’s the first and second installments.

How do you recover from unimaginable horrors? By viewing life as a series of opportunities rather than challenges, according to Mohamed Nabieu, better known as “Nabs”. Read how Nabs still struggles to put his past behind him but is able to make a difference in the lives of others every day as the Director of the Child Rescue Center (CRC).

(Picture courtesy of Kim Nabieu. Mohamed Nabieu is on the right standing with Dr. Steven Aruna)

Opportunities, Not Challenges

I always tell the children, experience is what happens to us but, what make of that experience becomes a life lesson to you. You can decide to stay where you are, or you can learn from your situation. You can make use of whatever opportunity you have. I always tell my staff that, yes, the children are challenging. When the staff is complaining sometimes I tell them, good and I laugh.

They say, “why are you laughing Nabs? This is not funny, these children are so stubborn.” I say,” yes. They are stubborn. If everything was going well, God will not need you in the first place. Because God wants you to fix these troublesome children, that’s why you are here. It’s an opportunity.” I don’t normally use the word challenge, I use the word opportunity.

3 men sitting who work at the CRC in Bo Sierra Leone
Child Rescue Center Staff Members

I see challenges as opportunities to better people’s lives. Our past makes us who we are today. I always try to say, what has happened to me, okay, it’s gone. Am I going to be crying over that for the whole time or can I look at that and do something?  I can always tell my story and inspire people.

You know what, you can make it because every situation you are in, always know that there’s someone who is in a worse situation than you are. There are many children who lost their life’s during the war. I did not lose my life. If those children who died would have got the option to choose do you want to die or do you want to sleep on the street for three months or four months? They are going to choose three months to live on the streets.

But, they were never given a choice and we were never given a choice, so I was just lucky by the grace of God. I should not be complaining that I don’t have this, oh, I don’t have that, oh, he’s better off or she’s better off.

You forget about the other people who are not alive, who are in the mortuary, who have gotten into accidents, who have passed away overnight. There are always things for you to be thankful for. I can be grateful because I’m alive. I can do something with what I have now.

Finding Mother and Brother

I didn’t find out until after college that my mother was alive. She was in a refugee camp for over eight, nine years. My uncle was in search of her because people were telling him she’s alive. He traced her to a huge refugee camp at the Liberia border and brought her back.

When we met, we both shared tears. Yeah, for so long we were separated. It was a day that I really felt that yes, I have gone through a lot. I later met my brother who was staying with another auntie in Kenema. My mother sent him there because it was safer, there’s a lot of maltreatment in the camp

The Alumni Association

When I was in college I thought about the 40 of us who have graduated from the CRC. I thought, are we just going to forget about about our past selves, the CRC and the world? So, I formed an organization called CRC Alumni Association. This organization brings together all the students that have benefited and are now working in various places.

Dr. Steven Aruna as Young Boy at CRC.
One of Nab's friends at the CRC, Steven Aruna, one of the original 40 children
Now Steven Aruna is now Dr. Steven Aruna, working at Connaught Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone

The organization is doing very well, and we are recognized as part of the CRC. Whenever there is a CRC board meeting, the Alumni Association sends representatives to be part of the board to speak on behalf of the children and make decisions. We communicate back to the older children, telling them, “hey, these are the changes, this is what’s happening, this is the academic policy, these are the behavioral policies.

Moving Forward

It’s bitter experience, it’s tragic what I went through.  I can still get the memories, have some bad dreams, nightmares. And sometimes if I think about it, I feel like crying. I try to say to myself, you know what, I need to get over it. I feel it is gone and, I’m not going to allow it to weigh me down. I need to be able to walk through it, to know that I can still make it.

And my experience inspires me to make changes. Every leader you see today has a story to tell. Everybody successful man has to a story to tell their background, that they are coming from humble beginnings. No matter how many times you fall, get up to do something that matters.

And I can still inspire other people that they can do it. That’s why I love working for the CRC because I am able to make an impact, to inspire people. That all is not over.  God is not done with me yet. There always a plan for you, there is always a plan for your life.

That’s what I always tell people. I’m sure there is still a plan for my life, I’m continuing to make an impact in the lives of thousands of people.

So, I am happy for that.

Mohamed Nabieu, Director of the CRC


  1. Jon Simmons

    These 3 posts about Nabs and the CRC give me hope that the world is not full of darkness and vile people who want to bring others down. This is an extraordinary story, very well told with great pictures.

    Dorothy you have done a great job here. Thanks so much for creating this and sharing.

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