Leading the Way Out of Poverty in Africa: Part Two
This is the second in a series of three posts 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 installment.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Aruna Stevens. Mohamed Nabieu is the in the middle row, far right.
It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child. And it’s a village of caring people that the Child Rescue Center (CRC) provided for Mohamed Nabieu, growing up at the Center. The CRC was founded in July 2000 by a United Methodist Missionary, Rev. John Yambasu (now the United Methodist Bishop of Sierra Leone) and the Helping Children Worldwide Foundation.The goal of Helping Children Worldwide is to transform communities by serving vulnerable children and families through education, health care and spiritual mentoring.
It is poverty, not a lack of caregivers, that drives people to put their child in institutional care. Mohamed Nabieu, nicknamed “Nabs,” became one of the first 40 children taken in by the CRC because his uncle felt he could not care for him. We pick up the story of Nabs as he began living with his uncle in Bo.
The Child Rescue Center Years
When my uncle came back to Bo, he took me in. I was now staying with him when people from the CRC offered to take me in. My uncle was very happy and told them “please go ahead, his father is dead, and his mother is missing, maybe she’s dead we don’t even know. I won’t be able to afford to take care of him because I really don’t have anything, I don’t have money.” So, I was taken to the CRC in the year 2000 and I grew up there.
Early on in my time at the CRC, I was having a lot of nightmares because of the tragic things I had gone through. I was thinking that people were chasing after me with guns. I had to be taking to multiple churches for prayers and things like that. The CRC started teaching us how to pray and it made me really happy. They started taking care of us, giving us food, clothing and counseling.
At one point, we were able to calm down and then there was the day they said okay, you guys are going to school. They supplied us with school supplies, cool bags, bag packs and books and pens. We were all very excited and happy ready to go to school. We all marched every day to school, all wearing the same green and blue sneakers.
Becoming a Leader
I have always loved being a leader. To do something, to change something around. I think, why is this happening? Why can’t somebody come to change something? It’s my nature when I see something wrong, I want to fix it. I have always done that.
I built my leadership skills little by little. I was the president of the children at the CRC and the liaison between the Americans who funded the CRC and the children. Later in secondary school, I was made the head boy. My leadership skill started growing and I began speaking to 1,000 students at a time about leadership.
When I finished college and came back to work at the CRC,. My first position was as the “Sponsor a Child” coordinator, helping the children connect with their sponsors in the US. I helped the children to write letters, to get their photos updated and to communicate so that meaningful sustainable relationship could be established. Eventually, I became the Director of the CRC and have been in that role now for close to four years.
A Special Vantage Point
I’m like a brother to them (CRC children). They know me very well. And I have come to understand them very well. I know what their needs are, what their wants are and how to treat them, what level of counseling they need and things like that.
I tell the children, they think all is lost but, no it’s not lost, they can still make it. I have always wanted them to believe in themselves, that they can make it. I am a living testimony, I’m a product of this same institution and I went through same thing you guys are going through. I teach a lot of leadership. I formed a lot of leadership clubs for them to be motivated, inspired and do something. They ended up becoming really motivated.
I’m sure I was able to make an impact on their lives. And they are also a big part of my life. The children are still making an impact every day on my life. I have loved coming back work for the children.
I mean I have been served, so I love serving back.
Next Up: Nabs finds his mother and brother