Practically everybody knows there was a decade-long very brutal civil war in Sierra Leone during the 1990s.
K was very badly wounded in that war with an axe blow to the head and had the tops of his ears chopped off. His mother had both arms amputated above the elbow. She now lives in the old folks home here in Freetown where he visits her once a week. Since the war K has not been able to hold down a full-time job as there are days when he can’t concentrate or do very much. He is separated from his wife and children who live over at Lungi- a ferry journey across the river.
Last Tuesday was a public holiday and as K walked about the streets he spotted S who had not been seen for two weeks. S has left-sided weakness in his arm and leg and also suffers from epilepsy. S stays at a compound where he is helped wash, dress and feed himself. He has no verbal communication skills. For reasons known only to himself S went walkabout from this safe compound and no one had seen him till K spotted him on Tuesday.
K procured clothes and money from somewhere, and went back to where he’d spotted S. He begged and pleaded with a taxi driver to take S (who could only lie across the back seat due to his disability) in the taxi. K told the taxi fellow that S was his brother and that he had been missing for two weeks. As S had not washed in those two weeks you can imagine how the driver might be reluctant to take him.
Eventually K got S back to the compound where he normally resides. There he washed and dressed him in clean clothes. Then he gave S a meal of rice and cassava and plenty of water as his lips were cracked and dry. K was able to piece together that S walked slowly from place to place begging food and sleeping rough.
When K recognised him he said he just had to bring him back to where he would be safe and looked after despite the fact that K hasn’t a penny. Once he knew S was safe again K took the ferry back to Lungi to see his children as if he’d done nothing at all unusual.
These are the stories of Sierra Leone’s war wounded that never make headlines on CNN or the Guardian.