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Reading: From Street Vendor to Women’s Rights and Empowerment Champion: The Story of Haja Marie Bob Kandeh
Reading: From Street Vendor to Women’s Rights and Empowerment Champion: The Story of Haja Marie Bob Kandeh

From Street Vendor to Women’s Rights and Empowerment Champion: The Story of Haja Marie Bob Kandeh

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Sallu Kamuskay
By Sallu Kamuskay 2 Min Read
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The Story of Haja Marie Bob Kandeh
The Story of Haja Marie Bob Kandeh

Haja Marie Bob Kandeh, a prominent activist in Sierra Leone, is dedicated to promoting women’s empowerment, independence, and civil rights. Despite facing obstacles and opposition, she has become a champion for women’s rights in the country.

Kandeh’s journey began when she started selling goods at a street market in Freetown. Through interacting with her women customers, she began to notice the challenges they faced. This sparked her advocacy for market women, and she was elected as Secretary of the Market Committee in 1994. In this role, she not only mediated business disputes but also family disputes.

In 1996, Kandeh co-founded the Sierra Leone Market Women Association, which aimed to educate market women about their rights and responsibilities as citizens. Since then, she has served on various committees and commissions, including the Women’s Commission, Association for Rural Development, Civil Defense Unit, Anti-Corruption Commission, and Constitutional Review Committee.

However, being a woman in such a role comes with risks. Kandeh has been threatened and attacked by men who oppose her views on forced marriage and domestic violence. Nevertheless, she continues to educate people and encourage them to speak out on these issues through her work at the market, radio programs, and visits to communities across the country.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kandeh has been actively working to address the increased violence against women and girls. She has been providing important information on COVID-19 prevention measures and holding meetings on sexual- and gender-based violence in rural districts. Additionally, she has distributed over 1,000 cloth masks to vulnerable market women and encouraged them to practice physical distancing.

Despite not having a formal education, Kandeh remains humble and committed to serving her community. She hopes to inspire and impact the next generation of young women and girls to become activists for the betterment of themselves and their country

Biography Source: Giraffe Heroes 

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Sallu Kamuskay is a Sierra Leonean communication strategist, fixer, blogger, youth organiser, event manager, spokesperson, and public relations expert. His work has been regularly referenced and published by national and international media and public policy institutions. Sallu Kamuskay was a child during the brutal war in Sierra Leone. Growing up in the midst of conflict, Sallu witnessed unimaginable abuse of children and gross violations of human rights. The horrors he witnessed during the Civil War had a terrible impact on him at a very tender age. But despite the shock of the war, Sallu never lost hope. He started on a journey of recovery, studying, and working for a better future. At age 15, Sallu entered into the world of activism and advocacy. Sallu Kamuskay was the Vice President of the Young Leaders Organisation, a member of the National Youth Council. The Young Leaders is one of the oldest youth-led organisations in West Africa. The organisation was formed by a group of young leaders, and launched by the then Head of State/President of Sierra Leone. Sallu was part of the group of young leaders who participated in and contributed to the establishment of the National Youth Council. The Commonwealth supported the training for trainers programme with line ministries and youth stakeholders in which key, representatives of youth council, student union and civil society/private sector youth platforms were engaged and empowered in the effective engagement and inclusion of youth. Sallu is co-founder and Executive Director of the Salone Messenger, a global multimedia and public relations firm based In Sierra Leone. Sallu has worked on various developmental and policy issues such as Poverty, Climate Change, Human rights, Child Rights, Education, Health, Gender Equality, Civic Engagement, Government policies, Information Communication Technology for Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, and has also been contributing to various global events and advocacy campaigns. Sallu Kamuskay is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Salone Messenger, a global Multimedia and Public Relations Firm based in Sierra Leone with the latest news and information, on top stories, business, politics, entertainment, and more. Sallu is working with a leading technology company in Africa, Techfrica, that has recently developed and launched a social media, messaging Supfrica with over 150,000 downloads on the Google play store in less than 4 days. He is the Adviser and Media coordinator for the App to give people the platform to connect and communicate to help shape their future with a very fast internet that allows users that live in deprived and hard-to-reach areas with poor internet facility to be able to communicate as it allows and stronger on 2 and 3 G network reception. Sallu has over 9 years of experience in youth engagement, inclusion, and coordination both at local and global levels, giving voice to young people and engaging young people to build a better world. He has served as coordinator for the Wave Alliance which brought together youth-led organisations who attended an international training in South Africa organized by the International Organization – Waves for Change. Sallu is working with the MLT, Waves For Change, and the Government to develop safe spaces for young people, with a view to contributing to the overall development goals of young people including health, as well as to community rebuilding. Sallu is currently the Programme Director for the Wave Alliance, which is a coalition of youth-led and community-based organisations that have successfully introduced evidence-based Surf Therapy programs to young people in communities, with a focus on mental health, peace building and sustainable development. Sallu is currently the focal point and face of Africa’s Faces Social media platform which is a global Social media platform that brings together people from across the world to share their moments, connect, share videos, and interact with friends giving more preference to excluded continents like Africa. Sallu Kamuskay has devoted his time to working for or contributing to a number of national and international organizations and companies, including the Techfrica Technology Company, United Nations, ECOWAS, European Union, Commonwealth Africa Initiatives. This work has led him to travel to a number of countries to contribute to global youth platforms. Sallu is the lead Coordinator for Peace Tour programme, an initiative supported by the European Union, Africa Union, ECOWAS focusing on uniting and empowering young people and local communities. 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 http://ayvnewspaper.com/index.php/k2-categories/item/7350-america-stress-a-hero-to-recognize. 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.