Sierra Leone: Daniel Fallah Kamara-James

It was 1978 and I was six years old when I first saw members of the Sierra Leone Red Cross.

It was 1978 and I was six years old when I first saw members of the Sierra Leone Red Cross. They had come to my primary school to take part in a community cleaning exercise. Many of my classmates were wearing white shirts for the event. At that young age, I was able to recognize that a lot of the Red Cross work focused on community health and I liked that. I also liked the white attire and became interested in joining the Red Cross. In fact, I enrolled later that same year and became officially enrolled in 1992. Since, then 21 years later, and I am still a proud volunteer!

During that time, I took part in emergency first aid training, and was appointed youth leader. I currently volunteer in the community-based health programme and disaster management programmes in the Western Area branch. I help train other volunteers in community-based health and first aid, diarrhoea management and prevention, and water and sanitation.

During the eleven year civil war, I was in Freetown as part of the first aid action team, deployed in the eastern part of the city. I was never displaced by the war because I was with the Red Cross most of the time, moving from one war zone to the other, rescuing, recovery and evacuating casualties to referral hospitals. I did have one frightening experience though when vigilante groups kidnapped me while I was rushing a casualty that I had given first aid to, to hospital. They accused me and the Red Cross of collaborating with the rebels, a misconception of the Red Cross role in delivering assistance to all.

That is one of the reasons why I keep volunteering. I wish to help spread knowledge about the Red Cross to those who want to know about the Red Cross but who do not have that opportunity at the moment. But, I also wish to reach the most vulnerable who do not have access to information on health related issues, and eventually use my skills to become a medical professional so I can contribute to reducing the high rate of deaths due to preventable diseases.