Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of January 6th, 1999

Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 January 2024:

Today on the 25th anniversary of the horrific events of January 6th 1999, I spent time with the executive committee and members of the War Amputees and War Wounded Association.

We were hosted by Melquosh Mission International, an organization led by Pastor Faith Okafor-Smart and dedicated to serving amputees and children of amputee victims of Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil war since 2008.

A reflective and inspiring thanksgiving service was followed by an award ceremony in which war amputees and supporters of war amputees were recognized.

Awardees included amputee Elizabeth, who has now qualified as a teacher; amputee Archipuss, who now has an MBA; Abraham who is about to graduate from university and whose mother gave up her life to the rebels so that they would spare her then young baby.

I was deeply moved by all their stories and by the story of awardee Ishmael Charles, who was once a child soldier and now saves the lives of other children through his Sick Pekin Project.

I am humbled to have been given an award, as I look back at my work with war victims through Sierra Leone War Trust for Children, a charity I co-founded in April 1999 in response to January 6th and which is still positively impacting lives today.

Spending time today with war victims was a poignant reminder that the cost of war is high and that the pain lasts for generations.

The painful memories of being shot or hacked, watching loved ones being killed and the challenges of coping daily with an imposed disability were shared today by amputees along with stories of hope, inspiration, and achievements.

I urge us all to strive for peace; to actively pursue peace through our words, our decisions, and our actions.

Today, on this 25th anniversary of 6th January 1999, let us collectively say: “never again” to war in Sierra Leone.

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