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VOICES FROM THE FIELDTHE IRC BLOG
Recycling Hope through Data
July 18, 2008
By The IRC
|Mohamed lecturing. Photo: The IRC|
|Interview with Mohamed A. Saah, IRC Data Analyst/Officer for CYCLE in LiberiaMohamed A. Saah fled Liberia as a refugee with his family when civil war broke out in Liberia in 1990. While living as a refugee in Guinea, Mohamed received an education with the help of the IRC. Today Mohamed works for the IRC helping other Liberians through the IRC’s Counter Youth and Child Labor Education (CYCLE) program. Below Mohamed discusses his life as a refugee in Guinea, his return to Liberia and his work with the IRC.When did you leave Liberia as a refugee?
It was in late 1990 when my family and I fled to neighboring Sierra Leone and then to Guinea following the eruption of the civil crisis in my country Liberia.
What was life like in Guinea for you?
It would be simple to describe life in Guinea as a refugee as difficult and frustrating. But I believe I achieved a lot by getting an education, which is something no one can ever take from me. I am grateful to the government and people of Guinea, and to the IRC, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarians for their relentless support.
When did you first come into contact with IRC and how has the IRC helped you with your education?
While in a refugee camp in Guinea, the IRC was the leading international organization for refugees’ education. The IRC’s education program really made a remarkable impact on my life. I got support for education as a refugee. In 1994, I began attending IRC-sponsored schools starting with primary school until graduation from high school. The IRC enrolled and retained me in school, trained my teachers, provided me educational materials and learning space through high school and further. It was a great help for me. Later I continued to a professional college by securing a grant funded by UNHCR through the IRC. I completed a three year course and received a diploma in Information Management.
Can you describe your experiences with IRC in Guinea?
I had a great experience with the IRC, from its education programs for refugees to its separated child tracing, reunification and reintegration programs from which I and many other refugees benefited. For a decade, the IRC has been committed to supporting the education of thousands of Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugee children by creating a learning space, enrolling children in schools, training and remuneration of teachers, providing scholastic material for students, among other ways. The IRC has also given us the opportunity to fight illiteracy in our society and restoring part of our lost hope. Today I work with the IRC in providing services to the needy.
When did you return to Liberia and what did that feel like, what did you encounter when you returned and how long had you been away?
I finally returned to Liberia in 2004 after the peace agreement that brought an end to the civil conflict. I really felt happy and boastful coming home because there is no place like home even though the war left the country in ruins and increased poverty among the people. For 13 years, my family and I stayed away in neighboring countries.
How long have you been working for IRC and what is your current position?
I have worked with the IRC for over a year and a half as a Data Analyst/Officer for the CYCLE program in Liberia.
Why did you decide to work for IRC?
I decided to work with IRC because I wanted to render to others some of the services that have been rendered to me while I was a vulnerable boy. My IRC job has also provided me the opportunity to earn an income that can help me and my family.
Can you briefly describe some of your key responsibilities in this position?
Some of my major responsibilities include managing the project’s database; going on field trips to review data collection and management procedures, making periodic reviews of data collection and management process, and helping to conduct surveys.What are some of the achievements that make you proud so far with your work with CYCLE? For the CYCLE program, I am proud of creating a temporary database and a physical filing system to manage beneficiary data during the first eight months of the program’s implementation. I am also proud of my ability to manage the program data alone during the early stage, which involved visiting field sites hundreds of miles apart to ensure data collection and the update of electronic databases. What are your future career goals and dreams? Since studying science in high school, my dream has always been to be an engineer, especially when it comes to reconstructing our war-ravaged nation. I am planning to enroll next semester in a continuing education program in the engineering department at the University of Liberia What do you think about Liberia and its future? I am still proud of Liberia. We have many challenges to overcome but the future of Liberia is bright. Progress will gear up and with peace, it is sure that Liberia will rise again amongst African nations. Outside of work what do you like to do in your spare time? I always spend my spare time reading and playing games like football and volley ball. Sometimes I spend my time talking with construction engineers in my area. I also enjoy listening to music.
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