Juliana Massah Kanyako
- My Educational Goal:
To obtain a Degree in Peace and Conflict Studies and after graduation to teach my people about peace and its importance.
- My Career Goal:
I want my people to live in a peaceful environment. I also want to share the knowledge I've acquired from college with my people. In sharing that knowledge I'll help my people to know their rights and denounce violence. I also want my people to live and practice peace in their different homes.
- Personal Experience of War:
During the war in Sierra Leone I was staying at Congo Cross in Freetown with my five sisters and my two-year-old son. The war started in the Southern Province at Bomaru where I come from. My home is called Pujehun and we share the border with Liberia. Because of the war my father and the rest of my family were cut off from any form of civilization. Nobody lived in the towns or visited them. They were completely cut off with no food; no salt and they lived with harassment.
I was worried over my parents' conditions of living. Pujehun was attacked on the 23rd March 1991 at about the same time Bomaru was attacked. During this time I lost my younger sister at age 22 years.
On the 6th of January 1999 the rebels entered Freetown for the first time in the early hours of the morning. I heard gunshots and rapid firing for the first time in my life. We were told to remain in our houses and to stay calm. During this time I was staying at Beach Rd Lumley. I heard them saying that they were looking for late Rt Captain Sam Hinga Norma and some senior military officers like "Max Kanga."
I was very worried because these uniformed men were unpredictable. They would kill at any time. At this time there was no freedom of movement and no sufficient food. In war, there is a lot of harassment, killing and disorder. I lost everything I had before the war and I started afresh after 2002 when President Kabbah finally declared the war "war don don".
The incident that really made me fear the inhuman behavior was when "a load totter" was shot at just five yards ahead of me at Mountain Cut Road. The ECOMOG officers were killing most of our brothers who had become bald headed from continuous carrying of loads for the rebels. They were considered rebels, but actually they were held in captivity. This young man who was shot just in front of me was innocent. My heart bled for him for the rest of day and I yearned for this war to end.
- My Experience in Peace:
Now that we are experiencing peace there is not a sound of gun to wake us up. We have freedom of movement and speech as well. We do not live in constant fear for our lives and we have food on our tables for our family. Investors are now encouraged to invest in our country which means providing jobs for people and building up our economy.
We are trying to catch up on educational programs that were destroyed during the war. We are all trying to rebuild our lives again.