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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Video short "The Mohamed Sidibay Story" by Mohamed Sidibay with mentorship by "Listen Up" and "The MY HERO Project"

Through the power of education, Mohamed Sidibay transformed his past as as a former child soldier in Sierra Leone. His inspiring story is told with footage that spans a decade and takes us to the point in his life where he has reached his dream of studying peace and conflict resolution in university to become a human rights lawyer preventing war and protecting children from war crimes.

Click here to watch the short film "The Mohamed Sidibay Story", a 6:48 minute short film created 2013, in USA by Mohamed Sidibay with mentorship by "Listen Up" and "The MY HERO Project"  (about "My Hero Project")

"Beyond Borders" a film featuring Mohamed Sidibay at 10 years old in Sierra Leone talking about the war and child soldiers.

"I used to think education would help me forget," he said. "I can never forget what happened. Instead, education is going to let me find out and understand the "why."

"I've come to realize that your past and present make you what you are. You are the future leaders of tomorrow. That's not a lie. You are going to change the world... Start by changing yourself, because when you change yourself, you change the person next to you, your friends, your family - the ripple effect."

"If you take dignity away from someone else, you take away your own dignity. It's win-win or lose-lose. It is very important to realize the power that we have." "The world starts with ourselves."

Article: Education: Giving a Voice to the Voiceless, by Mohamed Sidibay 

Article: Faces of Global Dignity, Canada 2013
Article excerpt: At the age of 3, Mohamed was kidnapped by the Revolutionary United Front, torn away from his family, and forced to carry a gun, "that was taller than me, and weighed almost as much as I did ... When you were three, everything was taken away from you - no Mom to cry to, No dad." He tried to run away, but didn't get far. Usually the penalty for running away was death. "I got lucky. I wasn't killed. I was beaten. I was burned."

 Instead, he spent the next 5 years as a child soldier in Sierra Leone's civil war, a bloody conflict that took at least 30,000 lives. He was forced to kill, to take drugs, to see death in all its forms.

"I've seen it all. I've seen the worst of humanity."

 He lost everything - his freedom, his childhood, his education, his family, and especially, the right to question, to ask "Why?" Yet Sidibay "didn't let that decide my future." He was nearly 10 when the war ended - brought to a close not so much by the U.N. Peacekeeping force that finally stepped in, but by the people themselves, who finally began to question the conflict, and ask, "Why?"

In Freetown, unwanted and unwelcome as a former child soldier, Sidibay drifted. He used drugs, "overwhelmed" by anger. "I didn't know who I was." It was only when a friend persuaded him to become involved with a program run by iEARN, an international education and resource network, that he found his way.

"All of a sudden, I was surrounded by people who valued education," Sidibay said. "Give a man an education and he can rebuild the world. Education is what got me here. Education is what made me what I am."

That's where teacher Mali Bickley, then at W.H. Day Elementary School (Canada), first met Sidibay. A co-chair of iEARN Canada, Bickley and her grade 5 class communicated with the former child soldier via the internet, and raised funds to help support him for several years.

Sidibay came to the U.S. at the age of 14, with $50 in his pocket; he is now 21 (2013), and in the 3rd year of University, studying Peace and Conflict.