In the relentless pursuit of positive change and transformation, individuals like Hajaratu Sama are lighting the way for a better future. As one of the 11 selected Fellows representing Sierra Leone in the prestigious 2023 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, Hajaratu’s story is one of dedication, courage, and unwavering commitment to social justice. Having served as a police officer and later joined the Anticorruption Commission (ACC) in Sierra Leone, she has always been at the forefront of the fight against corruption. Today, she stands tall in her pursuit to end child trafficking in Sierra Leone, collaborating with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to create a safer and more equitable society.
Throughout her time as a Mandela Washington Fellow, Hajaratu Sama has been granted invaluable opportunities to expand her knowledge and skills while collaborating with change-makers from diverse backgrounds. During her interactions with administrators at Lubbock Meals on Wheels in America, she delved into discussions on non-governmental funding, food safety, and preparation, while actively participating in delivering much-needed aid to vulnerable populations. This hands-on experience has provided her with fresh perspectives on humanitarian efforts and community-focused service orientation.
As part of the fellowship, Hajaratu engaged in meaningful dialogues with public service experts and practitioners, enriching her leadership and policy capacity.
In collaboration with her fellow participants, she explored models of public administration in Sierra Leone, seeking innovative ways to integrate community- focused service and business development across all dimensions of public service. This collective effort to enhance governance and public service delivery holds the potential to create lasting positive impacts in Sierra Leone’s society.
Moreover, Hajaratu seized the opportunity to connect with local business communities by meeting with the Chamber of Commerce. Through these discussions, she gained insight into various strategies for engaging and supporting local enterprises while also advocating for their growth and promotion. Her determination to foster an enabling business environment is indicative of her commitment to building a strong and sustainable economy that empowers Sierra Leoneans.
In her pursuit to combat corruption, Hajaratu had the eye-opening experience of riding with an LPD patrol officer in America. In these discussions, she explored the detrimental impact corruption has on public trust and learned about the significance of transparency as a potent tool to counteract corruption and uphold accountability in public service.
Hajaratu’s journey as a Mandela Washington Fellow extended to engaging and serving communities with a rights-based approach. Through dialogues with a local food bank and food aid production firm, she deepened her understanding of reducing food insecurity in communities. Additionally, she explored the crucial link between discriminatory practices, poverty, food insecurity, and the health challenges faced by vulnerable populations. Armed with this knowledge, she seeks to implement practical solutions that address these pressing social issues.
As the fellowship nears its conclusion, Hajaratu Sama remains resolute in her commitment to return to Sierra Leone with newfound knowledge and insights. Her vision is to lead the fight against child trafficking, leveraging her experiences and network of like-minded individuals to effect meaningful change. Furthermore, she aims to contribute actively to the implementation of the innovative ideas gained during the 2023 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.
Hajaratu Sama’s remarkable journey exemplifies the transformative power of dedicated individuals who relentlessly pursue justice and change. Her impact is not confined to Sierra Leone but extends beyond borders, as she collaborates with like-minded leaders from diverse nations. Hajaratu’s unwavering
commitment to creating a safer, more equitable world serves as an inspiration to all, igniting hope for a brighter future for Africa and beyond.