Alpha Umarr Barrie


  • Born 1986


  • My Educational Goal:

My ambition in terms of education is great.  I wish to have my first degree, and then later continue with my masters and a doctorate (PHD).  If asked how far I want to go in education I will simply say I would like to be a professor.


  • My Career Goal:

My career goal is simple.  I would like to be a human rights activist and later a professor in human rights studies.


As a young man who has seen people’s rights violated and who is living in a country that had a decade long bloody civil war my experience in war was terrible. Because of that I decided if I stood by and allowed it to happen somewhere else without doing anything it would be an injustice to the human race.  So, I finally decided to choose my career as a human rights activist in order to remedy the mistakes that have happened.


  • My experience in war:

I was born and grew up in the region that was most affected in the decade civil war, i.e. Kono District.  Kono district is endowed with diamonds and gold.  Because of its vast mineral resources the rebels during the civil war tended to focus on the region.


It was on Friday October 23 1992 at exactly 6:00am when the rebels invaded our town called Koidu.  They captured and killed so many people.  They burnt houses, amputated people’s arms and limbs, and beheaded people.  They did a lot of inhuman acts, abusing people’s rights.  At that time I was six years old and I did not know what exactly was happening.  I was in a cellar for 3 days with my family.  When we went out of the cellar my aunt was killed in front of me.  The rebels claimed that she looked exactly like a woman who had lied to them on their way coming to the town.  We tried to leave the town, as the situation was getting worse.


For over a month we stayed in hiding but finally we were rescued by the Sierra Leonean Army (at that time the army was not part of the revolution).  We went back to my town after everything was okay.


On April 1995, the rebels invaded my town again for the second time.  They did mass execution among the youth who refused to adhere to their command. They went to our house and took me away. I was captured by the rebels. I was just a kid, nine years old.  They took me to their base where I met other young boys of my age.  Their commander told us that he was going to make us Freedom Fighters.  We were going to fight for our rights.  They gave us AK 47 rifles.  One boy by the name of Idrissa refused to handle the gun and he was shot for failing to do so.


The wife of the commander pleaded for us.  She said that instead of making us fight, let them take us to the mines.  So we were taken to the mines where we were pushed inside a very big pit.  They gave us shovels, pickaxes and one of them had a gun at our back.  I refused to dig and they gave me a serious beating.  I worked in the diamond mines for three months.  I fell ill but there was no proper medication.  Later with the intervention of the Kamajor Militias we were rescued.  I will not be able to write all that happened to me because I just don’t want to be thinking about it anymore!


On February 1997 for the third time the rebels entered my town with heavy artillery.  This was the invasion that I will always live in my mind.  My aunt, who had just delivered a baby, was set on fire.  I was for three days without food.  I drank muddy water. I was unable to return to my home so I walked from the eastern part of my country to the north.


Though my experience was terrible these bad things happened not just to me, as an individual, my family and relatives, but to all the people in my country.


My education was the most difficult challenge that I encountered.  I had to struggle a lot to be educated.  I wanted to be educated to be a human rights advocator but things were very difficult.  I managed to finish high school and presently I am in my first year at the university.  After finishing high school it took me four years to raise the one-year university fee.  Presently I don’t have anyone that is responsible for my fees.  My fear is that I will not be able to continue next year because I have no money for my fees.


I have to organize classes for primary school children in order to have money for lunch at the college. I am not staying with any of my family or relatives so I find it very difficult to cope.  My town was totally destroyed by the war and there are no good schools.  Also there is no college or university in my town and so I decided to migrate to the capital city for higher education. 


  • Trauma and effects of my experiences during the war

As a kid that saw a lot of atrocities committed, the trauma really affects me.  Many times I have had dreams of some bad things that happened to me.  This sometimes frightens me and anytime I think about it I shed tears.  I cannot explain the trauma I have gone through or ones I am presently experiencing. 


The effects of the war are plenty.  The war made me to be the way I am today, without a family or a better hope.  The war caused the death of my father and brothers.  The war seriously hindered my future. It also made me to be a victim of exploitative child labor.


The fact that I was just a kid seeing all these terrible things sometimes frightens me and makes me feel as if there is no justice in the world.


  • My experience in peace:


Since I was born, I have experienced a little bit of peace, not just peace as the absence of war and violence but all other definitions concerning peace.


Never the less, if I say for half of my life I have experienced war I may be mistaken because I really don’t know how many years it took to be in peace and harmony.  But with the few years that I have been in peace I know for sure that being in peace is the best gift one can get from his fellowman.  I cannot say I am in total peace but I thank God that the peace as the absence of war is what I am presently enjoying and I am really happy to have such peace because I am now rebuilding my life from what has happened in my country.


Finally with the peace that I have I can say peace is love, harmony and the presence of social justice but peace does not necessarily mean the absence of war and violence.


Community Service Project which included 10 hours of teaching at the Murraytown Army Junior Secondary School.


  • Excerpts from report on topic “Human rights and child labor”.  

After finishing the basic concept on human rights, I went to my topic child labor.  I asked several questions on child labor and they gave me brilliant answers.  The pupils were really great!  I did an introduction on child labor and I went on to give the definition of child labor.  I continued to tell them who is a child laborer and explaining to them the global statistics on child labor.  We discussed the issues of child labor in our country and the laws to enforce it….

Finally I went on to the solutions of child labor and that most people in the world do not see child labor as a problem.  Throughout my period of teaching, I learnt and observed that most of them did not know their basic fundamental human rights.  I also learn that teaching about human rights makes an individual learn a lot about human rights.  They told me that it was their first time to have human rights lectures.  Amos S. Sawyer, the head boy of the school, told me that he wished to be a human rights activist in the future and he was the best pupil of my class.

It was really an interesting and educative community service that I did. 


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