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, 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.”