Aglyn Tennisha Kamara

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Summary: Aglyn Tennisha Kamara, the founder and Executive Director of Sierra Leone’s Safe Space International Youth Advocacy Network, works to protect young people from drug abuse and to educate them in determining their own futures. She has faced physical assaults, financial challenges, and political blowback, but she remains steadfast in achieving her goals. Kamara is recognized in Sierra Leone and in neighboring countries as a strong advocate for youth.

Profile: Aglyn Tennisha Kamara has degrees in political science and law, a diploma in African studies, and experience working with Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, her specialty—what has given her life meaning for decades—is the health and safety of young people. She is a “passionate and accomplished advocate for youth empowerment and social change.” That quotation is from the website of the Safe Place International Youth Advocacy Network, which fights drug abuse and educates youth who are in danger of drug abuse. Kamara is the founder and Executive Director of that organization. As she says, “We educate our youth about the myriad dangers of substance abuse, equipping them with the tools needed to resist peer pressure and make informed decisions. . . . We are also dedicated in empowering our youth for their personal growth and edification. Drugs and mental health connect in many ways, and the consequences can be literally life or death.”

It is not an easy road to travel. Besides the usual difficulties of trying to secure funding and to reach as many people in Sierra Leone and elsewhere, there are physical and political challenges. Recently, Kamara was attacked by one of the young people she was trying to protect; she sustained bodily injuries. Kamara has also challenged government officials on their policies concerning substance abuse. For example, key to Safe Place International’s success is strengthening the role that young people can play in their own lives, but government policies have not always been in tune with that philosophy; Kamara constantly works to change attitudes and behaviors. She has participated in youth conferences in Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and other countries, conveying her message.

Safe Place International goes beyond drug abuse; it also addresses education, mental health, self-empowerment, human trafficking, social justice, and community development. And Aglyn Tennisha Kamara continues to inspire others in those areas. Central to her efforts is her belief that young people shouldn’t only receive training and information but should also actively work to change their lives for the better.