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From A Child Soldier To Saving The Lives Of Children Through Sick Pikin Project: The Journey Of Ishmeal Alfred MorganHeritage Charles

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In 1997, Ishmeal Alfred MorganHeritage Charles was 10 years old when his mother sent him to Kono District, in Eastern Sierra Leone, to live with his father because Kono was considered the safest place to be in Sierra Leone. The relative security was short-lived; the rebels retreated from Freetown and into Kono, killing and mutilating indiscriminately.

Rebels raided his village and conscripted him into the Revolutionary United Front–the Sierra Leonean rebel group notorious for using children as soldiers and laborers, and for using machetes to chop off the hands and limbs of captured government soldiers and of civilians.

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Charles describes being saved by miracles. The first came when a government jet fighter strafed a RUF encampment, and he escaped into the jungle during the chaos. The second came when Charles, recaptured by a RUF team, was slated for amputation as a punishment for running away. Charles had been asked if he wanted “short” or “long sleeve” amputation, i.e. at the wrist or below when another jet attacked the camp and he was able to escape again.

The third miracle came after he had been captured by a pro-government militia and caged with several other rebel captives. If no one would vouch for him, Charles would be taken to the river, shot, and tossed into the current.

“A woman came out of nowhere and said she knew me,” Charles recalls. ”I had never seen her before, and I never saw her again.”

Released by the militia, but with nowhere to go, Charles was re-captured by the rebels, taught to use a gun, and forced to become a child soldier. He also served as a laborer, carrying loads of stolen supplies on his head whenever the rebels would go looting. Charles fled once more, making it to the Guinea border, where he spent almost five months living without shelter in the bush.

When peace was restored, he returned to Freetown, made up the schooling he had missed, graduating from high school, then earning a Diploma in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Sierra Leone. He has now earned a certificate in International Humanitarian Affairs from Fordham University in New York.

Ishmeal Charles has used his education to become a strong advocate for post-conflict youths. Currently, he is Healey International Relief Foundation Program Manager in Sierra Leone, working with Caritas-Freetown, managing all their projects in Sierra Leone.

In 2018,3-year-old Mustapha, who was suffering from Biliary Atresia and needed a liver transplant  was brought to Charles’s Director, Reverent Father Peter Conteh. Charles Reverend sat with Charles and told him about the situation and asked of what could be done to save the baby’s life. Charles requested that they took photo of the baby and put it on social media and ask for people support by donating whatever little amount they had to save the baby’s life. Ever Since, Charles was inspired and embark on the journey to save sick children in Sierra Leone. Charles, through His Sick Pikin Initiative have been able to save the lives of over 54 children flying 33 children to Europe and 31 children to India for treatment.

“We have another 35 children on our least that needs help, we will continue to raise funds, ask for people to donate and use platform like yours, The Salone Messenger to be able to reach out to donors who are willing to support’’ Charles told Salone Messenger

Charles continues to stick his neck out to seek funding for helpless, sick and impoverished children and babies.

Original story: A survivor of the brutal life of a child soldier, 31-year-old Ishmeal Charles is now advocating for other survivors of that horror. He also continues to lead an 11-member Ebola-awareness team–high-risk work that helps save the lives of others throughout Sierra Leone.

Visit their website The Sick PiKin Project to donate or call them on the number  076722736


Sallu Kamuskay

Sallu Kamuskay is a Sierra Leonean activist, storyteller, and blogger. He was born in Sierra Leone but later relocated to Guinea as a refugee because of the war in his country. Sallu Kamuskay uses his phone to engage on social media, under the name ‘’Salone Messenger’. He Co-Founded the Salone Messenger platform after his experience of the war, Ebola, and injustices. According to him, silence was the root cause of war, and of many social injustices, we continue to face as a nation. In 2013, during the Ebola crisis, Sallu Kamuskay took the risk and volunteered to fight Ebola. He spent some months in both safe and unsafe places; helping the victims and telling their sad stories. The election in 2018, left a divided country with communities fighting on tribal lines. This inspired Sallu Kamuskay to serve as the coordinator of the United Sierra Leone peace concert, which was organized in 4 major parts of the country, targeting violent communities and troubled youth. Sallu Kamuskay led a group of entertainers, activists, and organizations across the country on a peace tour, a program supported by the European Union, United Sierra Leone, Africa Union, ECOWAS, and the Messeh Leone Trust. Sallu Kamuakay has also served as a staff writer for the Hidden Voices Magazine. Over the years, Sallu Kamuskay has been using his Techno phone to be able to tell stories, the phone he used to tell the story of Gbessay during Ebola who was admitted at one of the Ebola treatment centers after rumors that she had Ebola when the actual sickness was ulcer, she was almost abandoned at the treatment canter with no medication provided to her. She could have died. Sallu told the story via social media and was able to secure funding from the United Sierra Leone to buy her medication and advocated for her. She was later discharged and taken home, He did the same to a patient that died and was abandoned in the street, Sallu Kamuskay used his phone and shared the message across, the corps was later taken and buried. It could have been more disaster without his voice. The story of late America Stress 3-year-old daughter. The hero’s daughter was abandon after his father's death. He shared her sad story and was able to get a sister who has taken the child as her own and is currently providing her with educational support. The article of America Stress can be read on the link below Sallu Kamuskay feels the stories of Gbessay, America stress and that of many others need to be told. The media house we have cannot better tell these stories, they are better reporters than telling human interest stories. He created the Salone Messenger platform and brought together passionate storytellers to be able to tell these compelling stories.

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