A Child's Story – Emmanuel Alpha of Sierra Leone

07/10/09

Emmanuel doesn’t remember his father. And what he remembers of his mother is sparse: she was good to him and his two sisters and three brothers. “She would give extra rice to me and my little sister when we were small,” he remembers.

The fourth of six children in his family, Emmanuel was born in 1996 and spent his first six years living in a village called Salina in Sierra Leone’s Moyamba District. Though he does remember his mother, he and his siblings were cared for and raised by their aunt, who lived nearby in the same village. It was a difficult childhood, though Emmanuel didn’t know any different. What made it more difficult, however, came in the form of a car accident in which his younger brother died. Emmanuel was five and the loss affected him greatly.

His older sister was given away in marriage to an elderly man in the village, but as the four other children continued to grow, it soon became impossible for Emmanuel’s aunt to provide for them all on her own. They weren’t getting enough to eat and she couldn’t care for their needs. That’s when Children of the Nations (COTN) stepped into Emmanuel’s life, and the six-year-old quickly became part of the COTN family.

With the move to COTN’s Children’s Home in Marjay Town (on the outskirts of Freetown), he gained a mother (or “Aunty”) who cared for him, cooked him dinner, washed his clothes, taught him about Jesus and made him laugh. “I like the way my aunty cooks,” Emmanuel says. “She takes care of me when I’m sick.” He gained friends who had lived through similar circumstances. He gained a home that talked about God. Emmanuel also started going to school at Children of the Nations. He started learning and appreciating an education. And he started going to church.

Seven years later, Emmanuel is now 13 and living in Banta Mokelleh with the rest of his COTN family. (In 2007, COTN relocated the children from Marjay Town to the newly built Banta Children’s Village.) He remembers what life was like before he came to Children of the Nations. “I didn’t have anything to wear to school. I only had one uniform for the whole year and also I didn’t have Christmas clothes, shoes and socks. I was not having a bag to go to school,” Emmanuel says. “Now, I have bag. I have shoes to go to school and also I have three pairs of uniforms. I also have Christmas clothes every year and shoes and socks.”

Emmanuel is now one of the highest in his class at school and works hard for his good marks. “We have trained and qualified teachers and also, we have a good school,” he says proudly. “We have lights in our school and also our teachers teach well.” Recently, Emmanuel has become interested in computers and helps at the COTN office at our Banta Ministry Center. He even typed the latest COTN report for Sierra Leone Country Director, Reverend Angie Myles.

Emmanuel also helps lead a church in one of the nearby villages called Senahoom. He goes most Sundays with a couple other older children from COTN to help the pastor and to encourage people to come to the service. “In Senahoom, we go there and we interact, we swim and we share the gospel. After that we play some games,” he says.

When asked what his favorite thing about COTN is, Emmanuel has to think for a moment. He comes up with three answers: “They’ve helped me to become a Christian,” he says first. “I get to go to camp,” he smiles thinking about the summer camp that takes place in Banta each summer. “And football and Frisbee, because it helps me exercise my body,” Emmanuel finishes, proving that he is, after all, a 13-year-old boy.

But just because Emmanuel is part of the COTN family doesn’t mean he’s lost touch with his own brothers, sisters and aunt. He visits once or twice a year for holiday and always enjoys his time with them, but says he’s happy to come home to Banta.

“I have the privilege to do many things here,” Emmanuel says. “Going to school, going to churches and going to other places. And also going to camp.”

Emmanuel’s care is funded by loving and caring sponsors who support him through our Sponsorship Program, which provides for his basic necessities, including his home, food, and clothing, but also for his education, school supplies, uniforms, medical care and extracurricular activities such as summer camp and sports activities. If you would like more information on sponsorship please visit our Sponsorship Program page.