Sierra Leone’s strong advocate for women and girls Dr. Adama Kalokoh has been honoured with Presidential Award for Voluntary Service. The award is an opportunity to honor the most outstanding volunteers and recognize the impact they make .
Adama Kalokoh is a strong advocate for women and girls in Sierra Leone. She is the CEO and Founder of impact Sierra Leone, an organization founded to reduce socioeconomic challenges in Sierra Leone through empowerment, education, and building strong partnerships with the Diaspora community. Her passion for helping others and devotion to the service of humanity was crystalized after she made her first visit to Sierra Leone in 2003 and realized the tremendous need to help rebuild a fragile nation that still harbors the trappings of instability.
She was born Adama Conteh, in Washington DC. The USA, to the union of James I. Conteh and Harriett Memuna Sesay. Her parents both migrated to the United States in the late 1970s. The second of five (5) siblings, the Contehs were raised in a loving-Christian home environment. Her parents instilled in them, a deep sense of pride and appreciation for their Sierra Leonean heritage. Adama’s parents imbued in her the importance of being a proud African child that must never lose sight of her heritage. Mrs. Sesay taught young Adama to never allow herself to be defined by the whims of others and to always remember that “greatness lies within you;” which is the driving force of Adama’s inspiration.
She attended the Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington D.C. and graduated in 1996. After graduation, she enlisted in the United States Air Force. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of the District of Columbia majoring in Public Health. She honorably served for four (4) years specializing in dietetics and nutrition and acquiring many other technical and life-skills training. She holds a Bachelor of Science – Health Education, University of the District of Columbia,
Upon conclusion of her education, Adama began volunteerism work with Americorps (2001 – 2003) as a Director. Her work proved very rewarding, as a result, she was inducted as a Fellow into the Americorps Promise Fellowship. She also served as Volunteer Program Coordinator for the HOPE Worldwide Mid-Atlantic non-profit organization between 2004-2005, and was again inducted as a Fellow of the Thurgood Marshall Fellowship. Her volunteer activities led her to reach thousands of marginalized people through the successful coordination of services to soup kitchens, shelters, and schools. She currently serves as the Director of Development for the Save The Young Girls Foundation Orphanage as well the US representative for several schools in Yonibana.
Due to her experience of volunteerism, she felt a great sense of responsibility, challenge, and inspiration to become an Ambassador and Agent-of-change for girls and women in Sierra Leone. Since then, Kalokoh has worked tirelessly to raise the consciousness of Americans and the Global Community to the plight of women and girls in Sierra Leone. At the same time, she is working to sensitize, uplift, and reinforce women in Sierra Leone to role model as “actors of change,” – a key ingredient that ensures social inclusion, gender equality and peacebuilding. This framework emphasized that engagement with Civil Society working on girls and women’s rights should inform country-level programs, regardless of the sector. It advances the idea that women’s organizations should participate as equal stakeholders and accountability agents in local, national, legislative, and policy-making processes at all levels. Ms. Kalokoh has contributed meaningfully to the fields of Education and Health for girls and women in her ancestral village.
She has been honored and received recognition in Sierra Leone and the United States as the Yonibana Brand Ambassador, Female Empowerment Entrepreneur and Chief Patron of the Yonibana Student Association (YOSA) Award, nominated as a 2019 Global Good Will Ambassador and was also among the Top 100 Recognized Human Rights Defenders 2019 Almanac. In addition, her commanding personality has made her a natural for hosting a series of successful fund-raising events through collaboration with the community association and church organizations in the Washington DC Beltway between 2004 and 2019.
This deep appreciation of her cultural heritage led Kalokoh to finally visit Sierra Leone for the first time in 2003, followed by three consecutive visits. Her series of visits to the Motherland advanced her strong desire and interest in using her knowledge, skills, and influence to advocate for and empower less fortunate village girls in Sierra Leone. Kalokoh observed many of the disparities in the economy, education and health systems, and the vast amount of poverty within the country. As a result, upon her return to the states, Adama coordinated many fundraising efforts in the U.S to bring awareness and help solve some of the pressing issues in Sierra Leone. She chose, as a primary focus, to help support women and girls in rural areas because of their huge lack of resources and access to services. In 2010, Adama joined five other members to form an organization called Me Against Poverty, Inc. (MAP). Her role as Vice Chairman and Marketing Specialist had a huge impact on much of the group’s success. She coordinated many of the fundraising, marketing, and promotion events for the group. As a MAP member, her efforts contributed to (a) the construction of a library/resource center, (b) the awarding of 80 Scholarships for qualifying students, and (c) the distribution of backpacks and school supplies for the Yonibana Secondary School (YSS). Her efforts at YSS made her realize the importance of education as a critical ingredient for eradicating poverty within vulnerable communities
Ms. Kalokoh truly believes there is so much power in supporting Sierra Leone as a descendant. She hopes that her efforts will inspire other descendants of Africa to embrace their culture and positively impact their home country. Ms. Kalokoh currently is the Director for Impact Sierra Leone, Inc. which supports empowerment and education programs in Sierra Leone (www.impactsierraleone.org).