Sierra Leone’s violent 10-year civil war devastated its people and left the country in shambles and deeper poverty.
During the war, Bambay, his mother, and two siblings fled from their village and hid in the bush for a month. When they ran out of food, 15-year-old Bambay went back to his village to find something to eat. He planned to return to his family that day, but when the sun started to go down, he accepted an invitation to stay overnight. It turned out to be a disastrous decision.
That night, rebels attacked his village.
“You voted for this president!” they shouted. Bambay tried to explain he was only 15 and hadn’t voted. But they wouldn’t listen. They chopped off both hands and left him for dead.
Later that day, someone found him near death and took him to a nearby church. A nun got him to a hospital and nursed him back to health. While in her care, she asked him what he would do if he ever found the man who cut off his hands.
“I would kill him!” said Bambay.
The nun began to plant seeds of forgiveness. She talked of the need to relinquish the hate and anger that fueled his unforgiveness.
The nun also helped prepare Bambay for life on his own by arranging a surgery to split the hacked ends of both hands so he could grasp things.
One day Bambay saw “Sewer Poison,” the nickname given to the man who had cut off his hands. He ran to catch him, but couldn’t bring himself to kill the man. The seeds of forgiveness had been well-planted. Friends offered to kill the man for him, but Bambay wouldn’t allow it. The man pleaded for his life. Bambay forgave him.
That forgiveness enabled Bambay to move forward with his life. He married Mary and they have a seven-month-old daughter, Ann.
Today, Bambay is a trainee in the Mercy Ships Food for Life Program. The goal of the program is to train people in local organic farming methods and in leadership principles. These trainees then teach others in their communities.
In Sierra Leone, the program partners with City of Rest Rehabilitation Center’s Agriculture Therapy and Skills Training program. Bambay wants to be involved in using the principles to help rehabilitate the mentally ill, drug and alcohol addicts.
Because he forgave, Bambay is set to achieve far more than his goal to “not to be a beggar!”