War in Sierra Leone

Students and Staff Worry about Their Families

by Claudia Cabrera and Jorge Benitez

Sierra Leone, a country located in the West Africa, has been involved in a civil war for several years. Now the problem is bigger than before because a group of rebel forces wants to take the power from an elected government.

Augusta Vandy, a senior who is from Sierra Leone, is very concerned about the situation because all her family is there. Here she just lives with her mother. "Having a war in my country affects me very hard because my father, my sisters, my grandparents and my other relatives are there," she said. One week ago she had a call from there and she received bad news. "They killed my grandfather and the house that my father was working hard to build - they put fire on it," she said. "They lost everything."

This problem affects the staff as well as the students, said Mrs. Marville, a Spanish teacher who is from Sierra Leone. Many of them have relatives there and they don't know about them because the communication is difficult. Some of their relatives have disappeared or have been killed. "In my case, I have my mother and my brother there, and the place where my brother worked was burned," Mrs. Marville said.

According to Mrs. Marville the problems in Sierra Leone became serious in 1997 when rebels took over the power from the elected president. The rebel leader ran the government for one year and a half. Then an African regional security force called ECOMOG, who were mostly Nigerians, pushed back the rebels, put back the president, and put the rebel leader in prison.

Now the rebels are back in Sierra Leone and they are burning houses and buildings, including hospitals. They want their leader out of prison and they want him to be part of a new government.

In Blair there are many students who are from Sierra Leone. Mrs. Marville wants them to know that if any of them need to discuss the situation or want to do something, they can contact her. If they are worried she will listen and share whatever information she has. They can also discuss the possibilities of sending items like clothes and books when there is peace again.

Copyright © 1999, Silver International, Montgomery Blair H.S., Silver Spring, MD USA (This page was created by Bladimir and Mesheren)

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