Fleeing wars in search of a safer life

As a child, Memuna Barnes lived through two civil wars. The first was in her home country of Liberia, the second in Sierra Leone, during which she spent several years being held captive by rebel forces. She came to New Zealand with the dream of one day being reunited with her mother.

We had just come home from school when we heard gunfire. I remember I was lifting my school uniform over my head when the first shot was fired. People started running and screaming, “get down – there are guns, there are rebels”.

Normal life ended for me that very minute, that afternoon and never has gone back to the same.

I was only 9 years old and, during the confusion that followed, just wanted my mum. She had been in transit that morning and so was separated from the rest of the family. I didn’t know where she was or even whether she was still alive. It was a feeling worse than being in the war itself.

The rebels in Liberia at the time were horrible looking and just the sight of them would make you shiver. They would smear the blood of victims on their faces and that smell surrounded them. They killed people and a group of them ate our dogs.

The first group of rebels were fully grown men, but eventually they were boys.

My dad’s younger sister arranged a way for us to get out of Monrovia, by stowing away on the Sierra Leone army ship. I think there were about two hundred people packed onto that ship. I remember a lady holding a baby who was pushed and the baby flung out of her arms. I don’t know what happened to that lady but her baby drowned in the ocean. Continue reading

Source and Image:

Additional reading

News category: Features.

Tags: , , ,