Sierra Leone is a small country on the bulge of West Africa. It’s a potentially rich country, but it’s been impoverished first, by a brutal eleven-year civil war that ended in 2002—think child soldiers and Blood Diamonds. The war killed thousands of people and decimated the country's already shaky infrastructure.
As if that wasn’t enough—in 2014-15 Sierra Leone was hard hit by the Ebola epidemic that killed thousands and left many more people discouraged, apathetic and fearful. Now there is COVID.
In addition to financial resources, Sierra Leone needs a lot of inspiration, hope and guidance.
Giraffe Heroes Sierra Leone (GH-SL),an NGO launched in 2011, helps the citizens of Sierra Leone provide all three.
GH-SL uses both traditional and social media to tell Sierra Leoneans the stories of their own heroes working for peace and combating disease. These stories inspire many more people to act with courage and persistence to advance their country's future by helping solve problems such as poverty, corruption and political violence.
GH-SL is an independent, Sierra Leonean-run affiliate of Giraffe Heroes International, an American NGO started in 1982. GHI Director John Graham spent eight days in the country in May, 2011 and came away impressed not just with the enormous tasks of governance and development at hand, but also with the longing of the people he met—from political leaders in Freetown to war victims in small camps upcountry—to heal the country's wounds and restart development work.
Everywhere in Sierra Leone, billboards proclaim “Na wi country,” which is translated not just as “This is our country” but “This is OUR country.” The signs are symbols of a national pride rooted in the common good and a positive vision of the future that just might finally produce the stability and well-being that have long been promised but never delivered.
GH-SL was launched in collaboration with the B-Gifted Foundation, led by Andrew Greene, which focuses on war victims, women's issues and the environment. As the devastation of Ebola eased, GH-SL began honoring its first Giraffe Heroes in 2015 (see below).
Do you know the story of a Sierra Leonean man, woman or youth who is “sticking her or his neck out” to make a difference for their country?
If you do, contact GH-SL Director Ibrahim Kamara. His numbers are:
Tel:# 00232 - 78 - 361752; 00232 - 33 - 361752;
00232 - 77 - 361752
John Graham at war victims camp, Makeni, Sierra Leone. To compound the misery here, Makeni has been at the epicenter of the recent Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone.
A Welcome from the Director
Success Ibrahim Sei Kamara is my name and I’m the Country Director for Giraffe Heroes Sierra Leone (GHSL). Before my appointment, I worked as communications and development Officer at the B-Gifted Foundation SL and the Gondobay Manga Foundation. I hold a B.A Hons in Mass Communications from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone and a number of certificates and recognitions in the journalism field, where I’ve made active contributions on key social issues including Ebola and gender-based violence. You can find a fuller account of my background here.
The mission of GHSL is to find and tell the stories of people who “stick their necks” out to make Sierra Leone a better place and to give then tools to succeed. When we broadcast these stories over traditional and social media, other citizens are inspired to take action too. This story-telling strategy is simple—but it’s worked in every culture for thousands of years. and it works here too.
Most of the Giraffe Heroes GHSL honors are social, democratic and economic rights activists. All are standing up against injustice, backwardness, and utter violations of people’s rights. All are doing something positive for the community. You can read their stories below.
We have just started. There are many more Giraffe Heroes in Sierra Leone, working bravely to combat the effects of war, poverty, corruption and Ebola. Now their stories need to be told to the nation so they can inspire all of us to renew our hope and inspire us to step forward to help meet the severe challenges our country faces.
Help GHSL find these “silent heroes” who have contributed so much and who can inspire present and future generations through their work.
Do you know of a fellow Sierra Leonean—man or woman, young or old, from any tribal, economic, political, social, religious or professional background, who is acting bravely to help solve one of our country’s pressing problems? Those problems, well known to all of us, include poverty, poor infrastructure, mismanagement, corruption, arrant violations of democratic tenets and the mammoth challenges in almost every sphere of the country’s economy.
If you do, email the information to me at Success Ibrahim Sei Kamara ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ or on skype “successilicious22231”
Giraffe Heroes Sierra Leone, as all other Giraffe Heroes programs around the globe, will not take sides with any one political party or ethnic group. Rather, it will find and celebrate the work of those citizens whose lives rise above party, ethnicity and class—people whose work is dedicated to the betterment of the lives of all the people in the country, from all parties and all groups.d.
As nominations for more Giraffe Heroes are received, a broad-based bench of citizens will select which candidates fully meet the main criterion for being a Giraffe Hero—spirited action that serves the common good. Those candidates selected as Giraffe Heroes will have their stories told throughout the nation in newspapers and magazines and on the web, and over television, radio and social media. Each story will end with a call for more nominations.
As GHSL grows and more and more Sierra Leoneans learn about it, we will initiate training and mentoring programs in civic action, including a curriculum helping young people from elementary through university age gain the inspiration and skills to build lives as brave and kind-hearted citizens.
Every effort will be made to convince our country’s leaders that Giraffe Heroes Sierra Leone serves them as well as the entire country. It is in the interest of all political parties to support Giraffe Heroes Sierra Leone as a powerful means for harnessing the problem-solving ideals and efforts of every citizen.
Thanks for getting in touch!
Ibrahim Success Kamara, Director
UPDATE April 22, 2022 Gibril Gottor
Giraffe Hero and Sierra Leonean journalist Gibril Gottor has been cleared of all wrong-doing following a review of the three-week prison sentence imposed against him on 19th November, 2016.
In 2015, Gottor had published a piece about corruption in the military, resulting in soldiers going without food, shelter, water, and soap while fighting the Ebola virus outbreak. For this and other reporting about government corruption, Gottor was attacked by other military personnel, left unconscious, and later hospitalised.
But it was Gottor, not his attackers who was charged in court. After lengthy appeals, that conviction has now been set aside.
Gottor, however, continues reporting on government corruption and is not ready to quit. So his security situation remains perilous with no protection from military assailants by the Sierra Leone police in Kambia District, where he lives. In addition, the current governing party leader in Kambia does his best to deny Gottor the civil rights due him as a citizen activist. He continues to be threatened with jail and otherwise suppressed for his unbiased reporting, especially of the government’s bungled response to the Covid pandemic.
“I am feeling suppressed and I expect anything bad to be thrown at me, at any time, even at night, due to the role I play in society. I provide for the security of my family—and I currently feel threatened,” Gottor says.
See his full story here
UPDATE March 2022 Lara Taylor Pearce
Lara Taylor Pearce became a Giraffe Hero in 2020 due to her outstanding and selfless service to the people of Sierra Leone since she became Auditor-General over a decade ago, earning a reputation for efforts to improve public sector accountability. She won international praise for her real-time audit of the financing of the 2014-2016 Ebola pandemic response, which exposed stunning corruption.
However, Lara Taylor-Pearce was suspended by President Julius Maada Bio in November 2021, weeks before her office was due to present an annual audit of the government’s handling of public finances in 2020.See a full update as well as her original story here.
UPDATE August 2021 Shiaka Musa Sama
For his outspoken bravery in sticking his neck out for the people of Sahn Malen in the Pujehun District, Giraffe Hero Shiaka Musa Sama was elected to Parliament in 2018. His fearless approach as an MP, especially in championing land rights, has faced many obstacles.
See a full update as well as his original story here.
UPDATE August 2021
Since attaining a Giraffe Hero status some couple of years ago, civil society champion Joseph Sannoh has continued to stick his neck out for the truth, even if it costs him his livelihood. He is not ready to back down.
Following his strong advocacy for fellow citizens on consumer rights as provide for under Sierra Leone’s National Telecommunications laws, Sannoh was appointed by the government of Sierra Leone in 2018 to serve as Commissioner on the National Telecommunications (NATCOM) Board, a move which many saw as a means to silence the vibrant civil society activist. But Sannoh saw it as a unique opportunity to be more vocal and outstanding
In March, 2021, Joseph Sannoh was fired from his office as Board Member of NATCOM, following reports of a big rift between himself and the Government. Sannoh had openly condemned a decision of a government minister and accused State House of complicity in alleged corruption taking place at the Ministry of Education where the Minister is said to have appointed his younger brother to a senior post.
A press conference was held in Freetown at the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists Office. Sannoh had video and audio evidence of his chrges which angered State House, prompting the President to sack him.
Sannoh against all the odds, continues to speak up for justice.
UPDATE August 2021
Giraffe Hero Augustine Sorie -Sengbe Marrah continues to seek justice for his fellow citizens despite the many hurdles he continues to face. He has now been found guilty of criminal contempt after challenging a ruling by the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone on 26th October that charged him with ”unprofessional misconduct” following his failure to appear before the Court after his social media posting which the Court referred to as “contemptuous and demeaning to the sanctity and integrity of the Court.”
Marah had this to say regarding the judgement: “In my opinion, politics has yet again been elevated above the law in yesterday’s judgement by the Supreme Court. This is egregious chipping away of the sanctity of the law. We raised this same eyebrow when the Vice President’s illegal sacking was judiciously laundered. Less than half a decade later, chickens are coming home in droves to roost. Only those allied with politics and self-serving interests will be jubilating, those of us on the side of the law will weep for posterity. Weep we will, but dither we will not”.
Despite this action against Marrah, he still continues to challenge national issues. He continuously sticks his neck out no matter the odds.
Giraffe Heroes in Sierra Leone
Seibatu Kemoh Allieu
Seibatu Kemoh Allieu is a surgical community health officer in Sierra Leone. Early on, she was frustrated with maternal deaths arising from obstetric complications that could have been prevented with better resources, improved knowledge, and more skills. Despite Ebola and now COVID—and despite the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated industry—Allieu got the surgical training she needed and continues to save the lives and improve the health of her fellow Sierra Leoneans. More
As a civil society and human rights advocate, Thomas Moore Conteh has been arrested, detained, and jailed by the Sierra Leone police for leading peaceful protests on education, police brutality, and non-payment of pensioners. Despite the arrests and threats, he continues to work with various organizations to represent disadvantaged and oppressed Sierra Leoneans. More
Sahr Kendema is a Sierra Leone activist who has for years led efforts toward poverty alleviation, good governance, security, nonviolence, social cohesion, and the end of money laundering. From his first days as a student activist at the University of Sierra Leone, Kendema has been maligned and attacked, but he persists in his activism. More
Jeremy Ben-Simbo campaigns to force the government to honor and implement the promises of civil rights and good government enshrined in the country’s Constitution and in manifestos issued by successive governments. He has braved many threats to his safety in order to call out government officials for their lack of support for these rights, and travels the country to urge citizens to become familiar with them. .More
Sarian Karim Kamara is an activist for women’s rights who works very closely with communities to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Sierra Leone and in her current home in the United Kingdom. In 2017, she founded Keep the Drums Lose the Knife (KDLK) to help coordinate efforts to address FGM in Sierra Leone, the UK, and elsewhere. Over the last few years, despite attacks, Kamara has educated hundreds of women on their rights. More
Diaka Salena Koroma is a women’s and girls’ rights activist in Sierra Leone, fighting particularly against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). In 2016 she opened the Girlz Empowered-Sierra Leone to empower less-privileged women and young girls, mentoring them on gender-based violence as well as sexual and reproductive health issues. As a result of her work, Koroma has been physically attacked and beaten, threatened by FGM traditionalists, and deprived of funding. More
Justice Momoh-Jah Stevens has been a foe of gender-based violence and a diehard supporter of human rights, justice, and democracy for decades. Even in the midst of intense politicization in Sierra Leone’s justice system, and even after threats to his life, Stevens continues to fight for the rule of law. He has risen in the judicial ranks from Magistrate to High Court Judge to Justice of the Appeals Court. More
Mahmud Tim Kargbo is a freelance reporter in Sierra Leone who has been interrogated, arrested, and detained over a dozen times in connection with his work. His fearless reporting has exposed many injustices and corrupt practices in Sierra Leone. His efforts have also resulted in the repeal of the Criminal Libel law that had persecuted independent journalists like himself. More
Roseline Mansaray is a young climate and environmental activist in Sierra Leone who mobilizes young people to fight for action on climate change. In 2020 Mansaray founded Fridays for Future Sierra Leone, whose goal is to raise attention to the crisis and influence policies that counter it. Despite on-line harassment, scarce resources, and reluctance of the government to act, Mansaray vows to continue campaigning. More
Mohamed Kamara, a citizen activist, continually fights for the rights of people in Sierra Leone, even though his efforts have made him many enemies. He has publicly charged government officials of corruption and called on Sierra Leone’s present government to institute policies that would eliminate it. Kamara campaigns vigorously against alcoholism and drug abuse, particularly as they impact young people. For his efforts, he has been criticized and even imprisoned. More.
In 1992, Sierra Leone journalist Sammy Haffner was captured and jailed for a month during a government coup. Undaunted, upon his release, he helped form a huge network of radio stations in Southern Sierra Leone, exposing false news, campaigning for free speech, and standing up for his fellow journalists. Haffner has received nine death threats and even once had to escape to neighboring Guinea after a second military coup.. More
Adama Sillah is a pioneering woman journalist in Sierra Leone. She is also Executive Director of Media Initiative for Women and Girls Empowerment, an organization she founded to foster the empowerment of women through journalism, to encourage community discussions of issues that affect women directly, and to make positive changes in a traditionally male-dominated society. She has faced many verbal and physical risks along the way. More
Asmaa James is a Sierra Leonean journalist and a presenter for “Gud Mornin Salone”, the most popular radio program in Sierra Leone. She promotes women’s rights and battles against rape and other forms of sexual violence. James founded the Asmaa James Foundation, providing support to girls from disadvantaged backgrounds by giving them access to reproductive health education, scholarships, mentoring, and training in life skills. More
Victoria Renner is a Sierra Leonean activist who champions the rights of vulnerable women to live successful lives free from fear, intimidation, and poverty. As a result of her advocacy, Renner has been attacked, threatened by knife-wielding traditional leaders, evicted from her work place, and seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver who tried to kill her. More
Aminata Kamara designs and facilitates programmes for girls and young women in Sierra Leone. In 2018, while working for the activist organization, Purposeful, Kamara was part of the team who stood against a government decision banning pregnant girls from attending school. She was verbally attacked by government officials, religious bodies, and the general public, but she never stopped her activism, and the ban was eventually lifted in 2020. More
Chernoh Alpha M Bah has fought for the rights of the oppressed in Sierra Leone and elsewhere ever since he was a teenager. He has exposed corruption,, founded and led organizations that publicize wrongdoing, and written books and given speeches about government misfeasance. He's been arrested, jailed, exiled, and threatened with lawsuits even as he lives in the United States. Nonetheless, he continues. More
Starting out as a vendor at a Freetown street market, Haja Marie Bob Kandeh soon became Secretary of the Market Committee, helping women negotiate both business and family issues. She co-founded the Sierra Leone Market Women Association and since then has become a champion for women’s rights. Because of her activism against forced marriages and domestic violence, Kandeh continually risks being attacked by men who oppose such views. More
Neneh Rugiatu Turay Koroma
Neneh Rugiatu Turay Koroma is a Sierra Leonean women’s rights activist who speaks out against female genital mutilation (FGM). She is the founder of the Amazonian Initiative Movement, an organization that fights FGM as well as addressing issues such as rape, child marriage, and teenage pregnancy. Despite harassment from the government and numerous death threats, Koroma continues supporting the education and empowerment of women. More
Gender activist Nicky Spencer-Coker fights for the rights of women and girls in Sierra Leone. Spencer-Coker, a practicing barrister and solicitor of the High Court of Sierra Leone, currently serves as General Secretary of the General Legal Council, responsible for the regulation of the legal profession in Sierra Leone. Spencer-Coker faces many challenges but she persists in pushing for the education and justice of marginalized people in her community. More
Marian Pleasant Kargbo is a young Sierra Leonean who founded the Pleasant Children’s Foundation, focusing on providing education and resources for children, especially vulnerable children whose parents cannot send them to school due to financial constraints and children who have been sexually abused, forced into early marriage or raped. Despite the hostility greeting some of her stances, Kargbo resolves to strengthen young people, particularly girls.. More
Lara Taylor-Pearce is the current Auditor General of Sierra Leone and has more than 29 years of experience in public and private financial and administrative management. She has won many awards for helping change Sierra Leone’s public-sector accountability landscape, and she has battled government officials who have attacked her for telling the truth about various audits over the years. More
Justice Miatta Maria Samba is a judge of the Court of Appeal in Sierra Leone. She is a strong crusader for human rights and gender equality, and an equally strong crusader against corruption. Because of her efforts, Samba has faced many threats, but has never allowed any extraneous factors to influence her judgment. In 2020, she was nominated by Sierra Leone to be a judge on the International Criminal Court (ICC) for 2021-2030. More
Reginald Cole is a young Sierra Leonean doctor and a Major in the Sierra Leone Armed Forces. Despite constantly risking his life in the face of infectious diseases and the poor health conditions of his country, he has continued to contribute to the health of his fellow citizens and set an example for his fellow doctors. More
Sierra Leonean Melrose Hawa Kamara has been disabled since the age of five. Decades ago, she founded the Grafton Orphanage to take care of children who are similarly disabled. She earns a meager income from petty trading and constantly seeks financial support. She is challenged, however, by political and cultural biases against the disabled. Hawa Kamara was also physically threatened when she attempted to acquire land for a school serving the disabled. More
Jalahan Amara Jakima, from Kenema, Sierra Leone, is an anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) activist helping those forcefully mutilated gain access to counseling, medication, and education. Jakima has been threatened for demanding that the practice must stop and, along with her sisters, was forcefully mutilated herself because of her advocacy. But the incidence of FGM in Sierra Leone has been cut in half and a new law now calls for consent. More
Hannah Yambasu has helped thousands of Sierra Leonean women in need—women who are victims of violence and other forms of abuse, women who are underprivileged, and women who need counseling, education, access to the courts, or escape from childhood marriages. Through her organization, Women Against Violence and Exploitation Society (WAVES), Yambasu is there for them. More
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Sierra Leone, Dr. Nellie Bell worked tirelessly as the head of Ola During Children's Hospital in Freetown. On April 2, 2020, Dr. Bell tested positive for the virus. She's now recovered and is back on the front lines. Her boldness in isolating herself when she got infected and her clarion call for others to take required precautions saved lives, and her continuing efforts will save even more. More
Attorney Rashid Dumbuya works tirelessly on public interest litigations, including corruption and accountability issues; women’s, juveniles’, and prisoners’ rights; and press freedoms. Now he’s pushing his government to improve its responses to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result of his outspoken advocacies, Dumbuya lost his job at the country’s Human Rights Commission and he’s suffered invective and death threats on social media. More
Joseph Ben Kaifala is an author, lawyer, human rights activist, and founder of the Jeneba Project, providing quality education for underprivileged girls in Sierra Leone and neighboring countries. Kaifala suffers physical threats and financial challenges as a result of his advocacy. Many governments and individuals do not recognize the worth of females, and Kaifala struggles to make positive changes. More
:Solomon Bangura is a young Sierra Leonean activist against violence, focusing on schools, gangs, and the dangers toward girls. Because of his advocacy, he has been threatened numerous times, especially by gangs. But he continues lobbying gangs, fostering school campaigns, speaking on the radio and before groups, and writing. More
Augustine Marrah is a dedicated activist lawyer, a leading advocate for human rights and democracy, and a persistent campaigner for the rule of law. Intimidation, threats, and public shaming have not deterred him from defending and speaking up for his people. He provides free counsel for activists and consistently writes about issues affecting all Sierra Leoneans, but especially the poor. More
Murtala Kamara is a journalist, entrepreneur and rights activist. He founded Salone Jamboree in 2009, the first Sierra Leone-owned online newspaper showcasing Sierra Leonean arts, entertainment, and social justice. Despite death threats, Kamara leads efforts toward social cohesion, fighting poverty and corruption, and rehabilitating women in prison. More
Fatmata Claire Carlton Hanciles is a female Sierra Leonean Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of Sierra Leone. Since her call to the Bar in 1998, Hanciles has devoted her career to promoting women’s rights, seeking justice for victims of the war in Sierra Leone and ensuring that the poor and marginalized can access justice. It has not been without risks. More
Michael Sambola is a Sierra Leonean investigative journalist and media personality whose fearless reporting exposes corrupt practices in Sierra Leone—work that has had a huge impact in the country. Sambola epitomizes objective and credible journalism, and represents the true voice of the voiceless. More
Yasmin Jusu Sheriff is a Sierra Leonean human rights activist, barrister, women’s rights campaigner and a radical feminist. She is one of Sierra Leone’s veteran women and children’s rights crusaders who has stuck her neck out for humanity over a period of 30 years. Her work has provided immense support to the recognition of women voices as a key part of the democratization process in Sierra Leone. More
Sierra Leone attorney Basita Michael has continually challenged the government on grounds of unconstitutionality, violations of democracy and breaches of the rule of law. She has been insulted, harassed, and threatened by the male-dominated government, but she continues to speak out . More
Andrew Lavali founded the Institute of Governance Reform (IGR) in Sierra Leone which monitors governmental actions and challenges policies and procedures that deny citizens their rights. Lavali has encountered much harassment for his efforts, but he and the IGR continue to expose corruption and advocate for positive change. More
Joseph Sannoh has long advocated for students’ rights, including access to quality education, enhancing learning conditions, and campaigning for the reduction of tuition fees. Some of Sannoh’s crusades have exposed government corruption in the education sector, and as a result he has been threatened, physically assaulted, and evicted from his home. More
Robinson Sesay gave up a lucrative career in the U.S. to return to his poverty-stricken home town in Sierra Leone to empower young people to become responsible citizens. He’s been insulted, threatened, and attacked. Nonetheless, he’s helped hundreds of young people make a difference in their communities. More
Mabel Kabba is a young, hardworking, vibrant Sierra Leonean radio journalist, who has worked her way up in an industry biased against women. She’s challenged politicians who have withheld information from her and tried to cajole or harass her.. She speaks out on behalf of poor communities and risked her life interviewing people during the Ebola crisis. More
Victor Lansana Koroma is the founder and Executive Director of Health Alert-Sierra Leone, an organization committed to helping citizens—especially women and children—obtain access to free health care products and services. Some of Koroma’s campaigns have challenged the government, and as a result, he’s been verbally attacked and received death threats. More
Despite threats and assaults over 20 years, Marcella Samba Sesay continues to be a forceful voice for justice and equality for Sierra Leone’s citizens, in particular its poor and female citizens. Sesay has formed coalitions and given her own time and money to ensure that Sierra Leone’s government treats its citizens with respect and gives them the services they need. More
Joe Pemagbi has been a fighter for social justice since 2001. As Sierra Leone Country Officer for the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) he’s courageously taken up public interest campaigns, insisting on access to information, justice, and respect for human rights. His demands are not something many corrupt leaders appreciate. More
Outspoken and bold, Sierra Leonean economic justice activist Edmond Abu, Jr., “speaks truth to power,” panning government political and petroleum products abuses and supporting human rights. For his efforts he’s been labeled a “security threat” and forcefully arrested by the government of Sierra Leone for demanding a decrease in fuel prices across the country. More
Mohamed Osman Kamara, an albino living in Sierra Leone, fights to free albinos from discrimination and exclusion. His organization also teaches people about albinism and provides prevention and treatment to albinos threatened with skin cancer. Kamara has faced constant antagonism from those who see albinos as cursed, who do not believe in helping them, and in fact who do everything they can to isolate and threaten them. More
Fatou Taqi Nee Cole fights for women’s rights in Sierra Leone. Despite intimidation from both the government and individuals, she advocates for female representation in government, for the prevention of gender-based violence, for the abolition of forced early marriages, and for women’s participation and leadership in communities. More
Hawa Sally Samai is the founder and CEO of Advocacy Movement Network (AMNet), an NGO in Sierra Leone that promotes children’s and women’s issues, particularly the banning of female genital mutilation. Death threats, political opposition, and the consequences of challenging long-held traditions have not stopped her. More
Pa Momo Fofanah has spent decades defending the rights of Sierra Leone citizens, particularly children—and particularly children who in the past were forced into the military; because of his efforts, the recruitment of child soldiers was eventually considered a war crime. He's been threatened with injury and death many times . More.
Lawyer Francis Ben Kaifala has been threatened, intimidated, and otherwise verbally attacked—all for demanding that the government of Sierra Leone respect human rights and the rule of law. Since he was appointed to head Sierra Leone’s “Anti-Graft Agency” in June 2018, however, Sierra Leone has dramatically reduced the incidence of corruption. More
Summary: Thomas Bobby Smith gave up his nice life and marriage in the US to return home to Sierra Leone to start a nonprofit that provides hope, opportunity, sustainability and education for young people in Sierra Leone suffering from poverty and hunger in the wake of a brutal civil war and Ebola outbreak. More
Justina Conteh leads an NGO that provides care and assistance to children—mostly girls—who are homeless because of, e.g., disease, sexual abuse, or abandonment. SGF provides these children with counseling, medical and legal assistance, education, and a safe place to live. Conteh is continually sexually harassed herself and has to fight traditional norms that oppress females. More
William Sao Lamin has consistently fought corruption and ignorance in Sierra Leone. His major effort has been to force implementation of the country’s Constitution and specifically the anti-corruption recommendations of Auditor General reports.For that he's been attacked and harassed. More
Youth in Sierra Leone have often been used as an instrument of violence by politicians during elections. Many young people have been killed, and the police have done little to stop the incidents. Ngolo Katta fights to end this practice. He's been threatened with arrest but is determined to effect change in the upcoming 2018 elections. More
Siaka Sama is a strong voice for farmers in southern Sierra Leone who for decades have been fighting the appropriation of their lands without adequate compensation by corporations eager to make a buck from lucrative export crops. When Sama and others protest, they are typically arrested and thrown in jail. See updated story: : More
Emmerson Amidu Bockarie is a Sierra Leonean Afropop singer and songwriter who has become well known in his country for lyrics that promote social change and criticize government corruption. Bockarie has been intimidated in many ways, but continues to be one of Sierra Leone’s most effective agents for change. More
For years, Valnora Edwin has tackled issues in Sierra Leone such as gender rights, children’s rights, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, mining, and elections. Opponents have threatened her life numerous times. but she continues to represent citizens, now as a member of Sierra Leone’s Civil Registration Authority. More
Theophilus Gbenda is a radio journalist in Sierra Leone who is continually harassed and threatened for his dedication to representing his people, regardless of the political elite’s responses to his challenges. He remains a trusted source of information and advocacy in the country. More
Sorious Samura, a Sierra Leonean journalist, risked his life to film on the front lines during his country’s long and brutal civil war. His self-funded “Cry Freetown” depicts the most brutal period of that war when Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels attacked the capital city in January 1999. More
Journalist Thomas Dixon challenges corruption, abuses of power, and neglect of the poor by the powers-that-be. A radio and TV analyst, he fights for a free press and citizen access to information. His fearless efforts draw fire from both members of the public and government officials. More
Hannah Foullah is a Sierra Leonean broadcaster whose sacrifice for her country has put her in harm’s way countless times. Nevertheless, she's never given up taking risks to benefit her fellow citizens, including broadcasting accurate bulletins from a “pirate” radio station during Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war. More
Emmanuel Saffa Abulai is an attorney, a newspaper publisher, and an activist. Despite personal and professional attacks from the government and some individuals, he continues to represent besieged clients, push for laws that are more just, and advocate for policies that protect disadvantaged citizens. More
Gibril Gottor is a Sierra Leone journalist who has continually suffered slander, threats, and arrests, as well as assaults so brutal that he has had to be hospitalized at least twice. Gottor contributes reports on the radio and in print, focusing on government corruption and military malfeasance. More
Mamaja Jalloh (aka DJ Base) is a popular radio disc jockey in Sierra Leone who’s worked for years to make people aware of core issues, from protecting women from sexual assault to the misappropriation of government funds. For this, he’s been threatened, harassed, and beaten up by police. More
Melron Nicol-Wilson, a Sierra Leone attorney, represents people who cannot afford legal counsel. Despite threats to his career and even his life, Nicol-Wilson has remained true to his cause. Many of the causes for which he's been a staunch advocate in Sierra Leone have been taken up by the majority. More
Sierra Leone Army Doctor Billy Sankoh was one of the first physicians to work at the country’s new Ebola Treatment Center. The Ebola virus was raging throughout the country, and Sankoh oversaw hundreds of dying patients, including his fellow doctors. Every day, Sankoh risked his life. More
Outspoken Sierra Leonean journalist Jonathan Leigh continually risks arrest and imprisonment by the government as a result of his editorials. In 2013-2014, he and a colleague spent a year in confinement because of an editorial questioning the integrity of President Koroma. Leigh continues to challenge the government. More
Since being raped and getting an illegal abortion as a teenager, Naasu Fofanah has fought for women’s rights in Sierra Leone. For three years as a government advisor she lobbied for a “Safe Abortion Bill” that the President refused to sign. In the end, she challenged too many traditional males and was removed from her post. More
Trained in social work in the US, Hindola Pokawa put aside a career there to start the Sierra Leone Foundation for a New Democracy, providing education, child care, and trainings in sustainable farming and peace-building in the poorest and most neglected villages in Sierra Leone and—ultimately— throughout Africa. More
Catholic Priest Peter Konteh risked his life to care for his fellow citizens of Sierra Leone when the Ebola virus devastated the country in 2014. Konteh has also worked to halt the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and to build schools and educate the impoverished youth of Sierra Leone. More
In Freetown, Sierra Leone, Vinod Khatumal manages an import/export business, but during Sierra Leone's vicious civil war, he spent much of his time and income assisting farmers displaced by the fighting. More