About Sierra Leone

In the war on diamonds, civilians were targeted in a “rule by terror” by the Rebels United Front. (RUF) Ten thousand civilians became amputees. Only six thousand of them survived. P. Samuel Menyongar and his team of IMC volunteer leaders traveled throughout Bo, Kenema, the capital city of Freetown and surrounding war-wounded, displacement and amputee camps in the aftermath of the war, visiting the destitute, bringing healing and hope. They oversee well-digging projects, micro-loans, scholarships, bench & desk construction and other community projects. When we began our work in Sierra Leone, it was listed by Reuters as THE poorest country in the world. (related movie: Blood Diamond)

Our Practical Work

Starkey-MenyongarsTouch the Nations founder, Katja Starkey, first visited Sierra Leone in 1999, where she met Samuel Menyongar. Rebels had gained control of the entire country except the capital, and intense fighting broke out just hours after Katja left the country. The intensity of what people had lived through could not be shaken. She could not forget what the people had endured. She returned a 2nd time, traveling with 2 artists in the amputee camps. Sketches and stories were compiled and sold in the US. We asked amputees and war wounded what they wanted the fund to go toward. Everyone said ‘education.’ They wanted their children to have a second chance. This is how our support in Sierra Leone began. Later it expanded to simple benches and desks for schools, then scholarships.

In response to the ‘felt need’ of amputees, we did a one-time project called ‘Ship Hope to Africa’ from 2010- 2011. Soldiers had been compensated for turning in weapons, but those who had been perpetrated received nothing. As a result, a team of countless Omaha volunteers in schools, churches and community groups spent an entire year gathering donations, doing inventory and finally sending a metal shipping container across the sea, so that every single amputee across the nation of Sierra Leone would receive something equivalent to the ‘gifts’ soldiers received for walking away from the war. Samuel Menyongar and his dedicated team distributed these items to each and every community.

One such place was Newton Amputee Camp. When boxes were unloaded there, the community elders brought up their concern about many children who were becoming orphaned as their amputee parents died in great pain from blood clots. This initiated our first children’s home and adjacent school in the Newton community. Being a teacher herself, it caught Katja’s attention that classroom instruction began before the building’s walls were even complete, with just a tarp in place of the roof. Such eagerness to learn made a deep impression.

Building projects have expanded into the Kondie Farm community as well, where Samuel and Mariama Menyongar reside. Mariama is the principal at the school which continues to expand. Students helped carry cinder blocks and bags of cement up the steep hills each day in order to cut down on costs for construction.

In light of the ebola outbreak in 2014, we began construction of a children’s home adjacent to the existing school.

Get Involved

Would you consider a commitment of $35 a month to help an ebola orphan?

Other opportunities:

  • $ 11 provides one school bench to 3 or 4 children who now sit on the dirt floor
  • $100 provides a scholarship to send a child to school for a year, including the cost of a uniform, shoes, back pack, and school supplies.
  • $1,500-$2,000 provides a well with clean drinking water to an entire community