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Reading: Teenage Artist Uses Talent to Tackle Mental Health Crisis in Sierra Leone
Reading: Teenage Artist Uses Talent to Tackle Mental Health Crisis in Sierra Leone

Teenage Artist Uses Talent to Tackle Mental Health Crisis in Sierra Leone

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Sallu Kamuskay
By Sallu Kamuskay 352 Views 10 Min Read
10 Min Read

Sierra Leone is facing a mental health crisis, with an estimated 10 percent of the population experiencing mental health problems. Due to poverty and a lack of resources, psychological help is scarce, leaving many suffering in silence. However, a group of individuals, activists, medical professionals, and NGOs are working together to improve the situation.

One of these individuals is 17-year-old Alusine Gibril Kamara, a talented artist who uses his artwork to promote mental health awareness. Despite facing challenges and setbacks in pursuing his dreams, Alusine has continued to create drawings related to issues of human interest, including mental health. Coming from a poor family, he dreams of receiving support from NGOs or private institutions to help him pursue his passion and study art at a university level. Through his creativity and dedication, Alusine is making a difference in his community and inspiring others to take action.

In an exclusive interview with him at his home in Lumley, Alusine shared with me his experience, hopes, and next plans with us at Salone Messenger

S.K

Tell us about the path of artwork you are focus on and why?

A.G.B ARTWORK

‘’My path of artwork is to use my talent to talk about social issues affecting children and young people in Sierra Leone, in fact, when I realized that I had this talent in me and waking up every morning where we are asked to fetch water in at around 5: A.M  in the morning, at a time when one should be fast asleep, let alone in a country where her children and youthful population and engaged in drug abuse. I find this very troubling. I do not think as young people, we should grow up in such a society and become such type of people. I strongly believe that children and young people should grow up in a society where opportunities are there to go to school and live in dignify life, my passion of using my talent started when I woke up one morning, with my pencil and after fetching water, I could remember drawing an 8-year-old boy with a rope across his mouth, crying and with the words NOT AMONG. That artwork depicts my current predicament and that of many others who are born and grow up in a society where they wake up at 5:00 A.M in the morning to fetch water when they should be sleeping, where their parents discourage them to focus on their talents because the society they are born hasn’t nurtured much of such people. Where I find myself and that of many other contemporaries at the market places around 10:00 A.M selling cold water, running after each car for us to be able to feed our families when we should be in schools. This artwork I drew portrays the opposite of the society we find ourselves. I wanted our leaders and parents to know that this is not the society we should live in.  I didn’t have the heart or even voice to speak this louder for our leaders and families to understand our pitiable plight and that of many others in the streets of Freetown, so the best way to seek refuge is to do this drawing that I could take a look at whenever I want to describe children and young people in Sierra Leone’’

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”NOT AMONG” A.G.K artwork of young boy growing in society that lacks opportunities for them to realize their potential

S.K

In one of your artworks, there is one of different faces joint together with a message of Mental Health problems. Tell us more about this artwork?

AGB ARTWORK

‘’Mental health is a problem that has blazing up in recent times due to the number of children and young people engaged  in it in sierra Leone. Since 2018, Watching some international news whenever I have the chance, I see lot of report on this troubling issue. In our country, many young people have engaged in taking drugs that affect their wellbeing which push them to do bad things like stealing, insulting their parents and end up destroying their future at a tender age.  With the drawing of those different faces side by side helps send out a message of how our young people look like when they take drugs, it shows that they are no longer normal when they take drugs. I want to help in adding a voice to this growing concern in the world.’’

  • artwork of Mental health problems by A.G.K artwork

S.K

In some of your artworks, you drew some past leaders and celebrities who are they and why did you choose to draw them?

AGK ARTWORK

‘’2 Pac Shakur, Michael Jordan, Michael  Jackson and others, Having watched YouTube videos of their inspiring journey, I realized that they served as a source of inspiration to many, they went through a lot of challenges to be where they were. I drew them because they had talents and most importantly most of them were born and grew up a society where opportunities were not available, faced with injustices, and otherwise did what they did to inspire others in their various field where they are good. The likes of Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and many others. Some of them proved to the society that their talents are a profession too and should be respected. So putting their faces on a paper inspires me that I will someday prove to my parents and country that artwork is a profession that should be recognized and respected.’’

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Artwork of late Michael Jackson by A.G.K Artwork

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  • 2 pack shakur, Artwork by A.G.K artwork

 

 

 

 

 

 

S.K

In a society that has not seen so much interest in artworks or skills in general, what are some of the challenges you are faced with?

Alusine Gibril Kamara

‘’My greatest challenges are for my family to accept my talents, some of the materials I need to do my artworks, and the opportunity to pursue my education. I was born and grew up in a society where parents have not seen a successful artist, as in rich or let alone someone that is talked about and praised. So the reality is my parent have not and will not easily accept my talent, so the option I have is to break the chain, I will need support from you reading my story that is inspired by what I do to help me go to university so I can continue my education and graduate in this artwork, you can do so by either helping finance my education, buy my artworks or request for my service. I am optimistic with your support, I will come out triumphant to my parents that they will someday see a man they didn’t believe in me.

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Sallu Kamuskay during Interview with Alusine Gibril at his resident

S.K

For some young people that are inspired by your work and those reading, what message do you have to tell them?

Alusine Gibril Kamara

There are many young people talented than me, they are born and living in a society where our parents and government have not created a safe space where we will grow up, nurture, and realize from our potentials, instead, they want us to believe that. I am sending out a message to the government, humanitarians, and organizations to come to my aid support me. If my family does not have confidence in my artwork, you can all help me build that confidence in and help me rewrites the story to the world. I strongly believe that through my artwork, I am able to raise awareness on social issues affecting young people in our country. My recent artwork on mental health problems is a clear manifestation of the challenges young people face in our country. if you want to support me, or are interested in any of my artwork, contact me on the following number direct call or WhatsApp: +23299634235

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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.