Ten year old Phillip Bangura was brought to COTN’s Children’s Home in 2003 and though his big sister Fatmata came too, he remembers being afraid. Some visitors from America had been at the Marjay Town orphanage at the time and Phillip explains, “When I had been at home they said that white people can kill black people. But when I saw the other children I was happy. I went and played with them.”
He associates very different emotions with the move from Marjay Town to Banta Mokelleh in 2007. “I was happy because when we were coming Mummy Angie said we were going to where they had built houses and everyone would have his own bed to sleep.” Phillip would find his bed in House Seven, “Hope House”. “If I include my aunty, Mary, and everyone, we are 14. And we have two pet dogs, Lassie and Victory.” COTN tries to ensure healthy routine for the children under its care and life in Hope House is no different. After breakfast and devotions, Phillip heads to school. His favourite subjects are science and social studies. “They show you about the earth and they are important if you want to be a pilot.” That’s the dream for Phillip. “When I see those people when they’re flying in their planes, I feel good.” After school some chores are waiting. He has to wash his uniform and help fetch the eight and a half buckets of water the house needs every day. After a rest there is time to play. Later in the evening there is study time, evening devotions and then sleep.
Life was very different for Phillip in Makeni, in the north of Sierra Leone, where he lived with his grandmother and an uncle. Neither Phillip nor Fatmata went to school and there simply wasn’t enough food to go around. He has some tender memories of his parents, who both died when he was very young. His mother carrying him to the family farm on her back. Watching his father as he prepared to go out hunting. As he thinks about life before COTN and what he is now able to enjoy, Phillip focuses on school, food and his bed. But there is something else. “I used to be afraid of snakes.” He pauses and thinks before correcting himself with a smile. “No, don’t write that! I’m still afraid of snakes!”