It began very
simply. Father Peter Konteh 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.”
Established in 1999 during
the civil war by Father Peter Konteh, St. Mary’s Home for Children became a
haven for children left abandoned or orphaned during this brutal and deadly
war. At St. Mary’s, HealeyIRF built a water well, sanitation facilities,
perimeter fencing, volleyball court, and a library to support the health and
welfare of the children. Father Konteh was later called to serve in Freetown
and had to leave Bo, but his impact on the children is still evident today.
Many of you have been supporters of these efforts since our inception and are
well aware of our work in Bo. We know you will enjoy hearing where some of
these children are today. For those who are recent supporters of our work to
help Ebola orphans, know that we seek to ensure that these children grow to be
success stories just like the children from St. Mary’s.
Mariama Jalloh, pictured left, is living in Freetown and recently received her diploma in Pharmacology. She is now 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
Francis and Joseph, who are brothers, are with
Father Peter at St. Edwards Compound in Kingtom. Both are excelling in their
education. Francis, pictured right, 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.
HealeyIRF Program Manager Megan Smith was delighted when she ran
into Mariama Fullah during her 2017 trip to Sierra Leone. “2012 was my
first trip to Sierra Leone and first time to meet the children at St. Mary’s.
Mariama was seven and took hold of my hand from the moment we arrived. So
happy, smiling non-stop, and introducing me to all her friends,” recalled
Megan. “She shared a candy treat with me and I have never forgotten that
moment. She had lost everything but still wanted to share what she had with me.
Seeing her this year, there was that same smile from the same little girl who
back in 2012 took my hand and my heart forever.”
Father Peter and HealeyIRF are now working together to rebuild the lives
of children orphaned by Ebola.
“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.”