Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I have told her more than once to stop calling me “Sir” but she has not, her deferential nature clashing with my instruction.”Yes sir?” she asks, before realising what she has said and collapsing into giggles.
“Tell me what you want to do when you leave school.” I say.

As I asked fifteen year old Massah Bunduka this question, I thought about her mother. Kula Bunduka was the third or fourth wife of Massah’s father, a man of 73 when Massah was born. Kula was just 21. In May 1994, when Massah was just ten months old, rebels attacked her village forcing her family to flee in to the bush. Her mother was already ill and away from any medical facilities she died a few days later. What might her answers to my questions have been? Would she have shared her daughter’s love of math, English and French? Might she too have loved cooking with her favourite auntie? And how might she have answered this question about dreams and ambitions?

When her father died in 2001 Massah was living with a step mother who mistreated her. An older step sister intervened, taking Massah to live with her in Freetown. However, a war widow with a young child, her sister could not properly care for her either. In 2002 Massah was given in to the care of COTN.

For Massah, Banta Mokelleh offers a safe place to grow up, a peaceful place to learn and a loving environment in which to be cared for. It is a place where she can grow closer to her heavenly Father, a relationship she discovered while living with COTN and one that she cherishes, earning the reputation of being something of a prayer warrior. But what would she like to do after school? Massah hesitates, thinking about her answer. Last week, she wanted to be Sierra Leone’s Minister of Social Welfare and Children. Now she says she wants to be a secretary.
“A secretary?” I ask.
“I have changed it”, Massah responds with a shy smile. “Now I want to be UN Secretary General. I want to be able to help people no matter what country they live in or what language they speak.”
(In the picture above Massah is the one on the left. On the right is Nancy, our Home Mother's daughter...she's wonderful, incredibly feisty and calls me...when she is talking to me that is..."big brother". For another picture of Massah go to this article as published at

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