A Refugee's Story

Eula and Agnes

Article by Eula Valdez, Interview by Agnes Mends

New York City  — You have a roof over your head, a plate with food to feed your belly, clean clothes to keep you warm, and most of all, you have a country that is proud to call you her own. These things that you may rarely think about are some of the most important things deprived from refugees. Refugees are the most vulnerable people. They are also the strongest, most resilient people our world has ever met. But don’t take it from me. Take it from Fanta Mansaray—a refugee who fled Sierra Leone due to the country’s civil war.

Fanta Mansaray was born and raised in Sierra Leone. It was the only place she had ever known. That is why it is not a surprise to find her heartbroken when she learned she had to leave her hometown district of Kono. Due to the country’s civil war, Mansaray had to flee to her country’s neighbor, Guinea, leaving everything that she had loved behind. As distressing as that sounds, it was not the most depressing event that happened. In an interview with F&C student Agnes Mends, Mansaray shared that she “had just lost almost all [of her] family members, saw [her] brother’s hand being cut off, [her] older sister getting raped, and [her] mom and dad burned in the place [they] called home.”

Refugees are the most vulnerable people. They are also the strongest, most resilient people our world has ever met.

Along with her siblings, Mansaray escaped to Sierra Leone’s capital and largest city—Freetown. However, the stay there was not long. Two days after arriving, Mansaray and her siblings had to flee once more after hearing talks of the rebels invading. Eventually, with the help of their aunt, the Mansarays escaped to Guinea, where they lived for three to four years before moving to the United States.

Despite these experiences, Mansaray still longs for the country she knew. When asked if she would ever go back, she eagerly responded, “Yes!” She dreams of improving “the lives of those who didn’t get the opportunity to have a better life now,” like she did.

Fanta Mansaray would like to give credit to the people who devote their time to helping people like her. “I would like to thank anyone out there that helps former and current refugees.” To her fellow refugees, her message is that she wants “the world to know that we matter, we are humans, and we need help.”

We are humans, and we need help.

Fanta Mansaray

Fanta Mansaray’s story demonstrates that no amount of hardships and difficulties can break the strength of the human spirit. She exemplifies the true meaning of determination and compassion, which is something that we could all learn from.