One of the first projects in Sierra Leone that HealeyIRF supported was the St. Mary’s Home for Children in Bo. Established in 1999 during the civil war by Father Peter Konteh, St. Mary’s became a haven for children left abandoned or orphaned during this brutal and deadly war.
It began very simply. Father Peter heard a cry outside his parish door. Upon opening the door, he saw a small child wrapped in a blanket staring up into his eyes.
“I was very surprised at what I found on my doorstep,” reflected Father Peter, “but in the middle of all the horrors of the war my heart was so moved by that innocent little baby.”
Father Peter began caring for this child and over time more children were being left at the parish in Bo. After consulting with the Archdiocese of Freetown, Father Peter was given permission to build the St. Mary’s Home for Children.
“This was an evil time in our country’s history, but these brave and innocent children have overcome, and they give me such hope for the future, not only for Sierra Leone, but the world,” said Father Konteh. “They are shining brightly.”
STARS FROM ST. MARY’S
One such star is Mariama Jalloh. She is now living in Freetown and recently received her diploma in Pharmacology and is entering the University of Sierra Leone to study towards a Bachelor in Science for Medicine. Of Father Peter she says, “He has really helped to change my life.” Her twin sister Asanatu, who was also at St. Mary’s, is studying at Freetown Teachers College.
Francis and Joseph, who are brothers, are with Father Peter at St. Edwards Compound in Kingtom. Both are excelling in their education. Francis is in his first year at the Institute of Public Administration Management at the University of Sierra Leone studying Banking and Finance. Joseph is in his last year of secondary school.
Father Peter and HealeyIRF are now working together to rebuild the lives of children orphaned by Ebola. Supporting 40 children at two interim care centers, food, education, and loving care are provided to help turn their “scars into stars.”
“Like the children nurtured at St. Mary’s,” stated Father Peter, “we will work also to develop these children to live positive lives and make the world a better place. They too will shine brightly.”
Like the Good Samaritan, may we not be ashamed of touching the wounds of those who suffer, but try to heal them with concrete acts of love.