Tamba Abdulai Konah
Class of 2013-2016
Country: Sierra Leone
Province: Rift Valley
City: Kono District Headquaters
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When rebels attacked Kono District in the early 1990s at the start of the civil war, Tamba, a young boy at the time, was separated from his family. He was found and carried to Koonin Refugee Camp, where, unable to locate his family, he remained until 2002. Tamba attended primary school in the refugee camp. In 2001, an aunt, bringing food to the camp, recognized him. When his family arrived to claim him, Tamba did not recognize them. Having learned to read and write, a young Tamba sat down and interviewed his parents and five siblings until he was confident he belonged to their family.
Back in Kono District Headquarters, Tamba attended a public school until 2009 when the high school imposed school fees without telling the students. That year, Tamba and a large majority of the student body were unable to attend school. Wanting to keep busy, Tamba and a few friends created Koyandu Farm Development Association, an agricultural group in Koyindu Village 43 kilometers away from Kono District Headquarters. When those in the nearby villages tried to buy the group’s cassava farm, Tamba and his friends said no, and instead asked them to join the organization in order to grow and harvest more to take to market in the city.
Koyandu Farm Development Association has since grown from the initial 50 members to over 200 members. The cassava farm now also produces rice. The profit is used to cover school fees for students that the organization votes on to support. Tamba and the other leaders of the group contacted a non-governmental organization that traveled to Koyindu Village and built better roads to make transporting materials and harvests easier.
In 2011, Tamba, thanks to the agricultural group, was able to return to school. He balanced his studies along with his duties as the organization’s secretary. When Tamba heard an advertisement for EARTH University on the radio, he immediately applied. He knew he “wanted to study agriculture because in the whole of that area there is nobody who can carry out commercial farming. If I study agriculture and I go back there to develop, it will go very fast, because I was a small boy then when I decided to make a group and almost got the whole area [involved]. I’m fortunate to study agriculture and with the experience I know I can do even more than before.” After he completes his studies at EARTH, Tamba plans to return to Kono District Headquarters to continue growing the organization and to create many job opportunities for those in his community.