Umaru, 25, spent his day working in the bush. He then walked five miles from his village to visit his sister’s town. They sit at her house as he shares his story, then they eat dinner together with her neighbors. Today’s meal—freshly prepared krain-krain with rice. After dinner, Umaru puts biscuits and a lollipop in his pocket for the long walk back to the village.

Umaru's Story

It feels so good to be a father, I’m so happy. My son will grow up to be a good man with my help. I never understood why some fathers leave their wives and abandon their children. I’m not afraid of my responsibilities.

I never went to school even though we have some in my village. It’s too late for me now, but I want my son to have an education. Let him do better things for himself and his family. The new free education direction will benefit my son and I’m glad for that. Let him become whatever God marks him to be—a doctor, lawyer, or anything else.

As a Muslim I attend the village mosque. The Imam teaches us Arabic by firelight during the week expect on Friday and Saturday. I learn so much from these classes, mostly about the Quran and Allah’s word. I don’t like when Imams tell Muslim men to only marry Muslim women. That’s not right. My wife and her family all practice Christianity, but I still respect them. Whatever makes her happy, makes me happy too.

I don’t take okada [motorcycle taxis] because I don’t have the money. Instead I walked to my sister’s house today to buy fertilizer for my sister’s chili pepper garden. She gives me money and I help take care of her land. I look after her rice farm too. I prefer growing peppers, even though they need more work. They make a bigger profit in the end. Today I worked in the forest from 9am to 4pm—my brother needed help clearing his farm land to plant rice.

We eat bush meat with our rice if I catch any animals in my traps. There’s a rope or barbed wire inside that closes around an animal’s foot as it tries to eat bait. Traps require patience since one or two months might pass before catching an animal. I regularly check them with high hopes.

I want to tell President Bio and the Sierra Leonean government to help the people by lowering the price for everyday things. Let them reduce the cost of fertilizer and fuel to help us live a little better and enjoy life in the villages.