Staff Spotlight: Kadie Kobba, Vice-Principal in Sierra Leone

11/19/09

Kadie Norwo Kobba knew she’d work for Children of the Nations (COTN) when she grew up. “I made a promise to myself that after college [COTN] would be my first place to work before serving any other place,” Kadie says. “That has always been my dream.”

For the past two years she’s been living that dream, working as the vice principal at COTN’s secondary school in Banta Mokelleh, Sierra Leone. She also serves as a teacher of language arts and home economics. When Kadie was a teenager, she learned about COTN through her pastor who was friends with COTN founders Chris and Debbie Clark. “I feel connected, I feel like it’s my family,” she says.

Kadie grew up in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital. Though she and her family fled to Gambia in 1999 during the rebel war, they returned a few years later, which is when she attended college. Kadie, 29, studied literature and linguistics and got her masters degree in rural development. Though the decision to work with COTN was easy for Kadie, the transition took a bit more getting used to.

About two years ago, the COTN staff visited their new, soon-to-be home, Banta Mokelleh. A six-hour drive from Freetown, all that stood on the new land was an office and the school. The children’s homes were almost finished, but that was about it. “I looked around and just saw bush!” Kadie says, laughing. “I looked left and looked right and I turned to a colleague of mine and said, ‘Are we going to make it?’ And then after two or three days, I said, ‘I think we’ll make it.’”

It was a big move for teachers and staff to make, especially those used to city life. But Kadie knew this was where God wanted her. “I think COTN is special because they came for the lost. They don’t care who you are, your background, or what condition you are in. We take you and then we nurture,” she says. “Some NGOs (non-government organizations) take care of children, but some don’t go where the need is—they don’t go to the target areas to look for the disadvantaged. But with COTN, see where we are finding ourselves? In the middle of the jungle!”

Along with the other teachers and staff, Kadie has a big job of teaching children on all levels—some who have been in school before and others who haven’t. Supplies are limited and electricity is used only at night from generators, but Kadie wouldn’t change it. “We have so many good students that energize us from the negatives and it makes us forget about the frustrations,” Kadie says. “I count myself lucky because most of them like me and they look up to me to solve problems for them. I try my best not to let them down academically or emotionally and personally.”

Now into the third school year in Banta, with more than 500 students who attend the primary and secondary schools, Kadie continues to tackle the many responsibilities before her. And each year, it gets easier as she becomes more familiar with the people and children. “Sometimes when I feel like I’m worried or uncomfortable in my work,” Kadie says, “There’s this thing that always tells me, you’re here for a purpose and you’ll be a blessing to the young people.”

There’s no doubt that she is.

To contribute to COTN's school in Banta, click here.