ABOVE PHOTO: Adams Daramy
Malvern Prep graduate reunites with mother after 12-year separation
MALVERN, Pa. – One cannot comprehend the level of danger that would lead a mother to send her child away to ensure his safety. But that is what Grace Sankoh did 12 years ago when she helped her son, Adams Kamara Daramy, flee war-torn Sierra Leone at the age of 6 to seek refuge in the United States. Thanks to the support of his classmates and the entire Malvern Prep community, Adams saw his mother for the first time in 12 years.
Adams graduated from Malvern Preparatory School on June 6. Adams, the Student Council President, will be giving the introductory remarks prior to Malvern’s 87th Commencement, which begins at 10:00 a.m. on the School’s Chapel Lawn.
Malvern Prep has been working for months to help make this reunion happen. Malvern seniors rallied to raise more than $4,000 to help purchase Ms. Sankoh’s plane ticket and luggage, and on Wednesday, the School, with the help of Rep. Pat Meehan’s office, secured Ms. Sankoh’s visitation visa. Not only will Ms. Sankoh get to see her son graduate from high school, she will be giving him his diploma.
“Congressman Meehan and his office were relentless in their efforts to make this happen,” says Malvern President Rev. James R. Flynn, O.S.A.
Adams fled a brutal civil war in Sierra Leone in which thousands died and thousands more fell victim to the rebel army’s intimidation tactic of cutting off the limbs of civilians. Two thirds of the population of six million was displaced by the conflict.
“At the height of the war, I was exposed to unforgettable horrors that have become permanent memories. I witnessed amputation, rape, mutilation and mass killings that have left my country in turmoil ever since,” Adams says. “Many of my childhood friends were captured and turned into child soldiers. My family was divided. Those who could flee, fled, and those who remained in the country had nowhere to neither run nor hide.”
Adams’ father fled the country, leaving his family behind. Ms. Kamara’s hope was for her son to do the same. After living in the Ivory Coast for a year to obtain the proper documentation for a Diversity Visa, Adams came to the United States to live with his uncle, who had also fled the war in Sierra Leone.
Since arriving at Malvern Prep as a freshman, Adams has distinguished himself as a student, athlete and classmate. He has excelled at both football and soccer, and has been a standout on the track team for four years. This year, he was selected by his classmates as Student Council President. He is active in Malvern’s many Christian Service programs and school activities. Adams is a member of the World Affairs Club, and this March, was recognized by the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia as the Outstanding Student Leader at the organizations Global Economic Forum at Temple University.
It is easy to see why Adams’ greatest wish is for his mother to celebrate these accomplishments with him.
“My mother has been separated from me since February of 2001,” says Adams. “I want her to be proud of me. It would be an honor for me to be able to receive my diploma from her hand, and to see her again before I set off for college.”
Since 2011, Adams has helped support his mother and family with earnings from his job at Simpson Meadows, a retirement home in Downingtown, Adams’ adopted hometown.
“One of the main reasons that I have it is to take care of my mom, brother and other family members back home in Sierra Leone,” Adams says. “About two years ago, my mom told me that after God, she looks up to me. As a teenage boy, the thought of my mom struggling in Africa drove me to find a job. Even though I don’t make a lot, through disciplined planning, I am able to take care of my mom and pay her rent. I’m a full time student and I play soccer and run track year-round, so scheduling gets quite overwhelming.”
But Adams has managed to overcome these struggles to gain acceptance at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he will attend college in the fall. His dream is to return to Sierra Leone to build hospitals and schools.
“As a victim of many of the diseases that plague my fellow countrymen, such as having malaria and nearly being diagnosed with polio, I truly know what it is like to not have the proper treatment and care,” Adams says. “Building proper hospitals would hopefully bring care and proper treatment to the people of Sierra Leone. Since I was young, I have heard people say, ‘Education is the key.’ So what better way to unlock the potential of Sierra Leone’s youths than to give them well developed and properly managed educational institutions, with well-qualified instructors?”
Big dreams for a remarkable young man with a remarkable story. Thanks to the help of his classmates, teachers and administrators, and the work and trust of Rep. Meehan, Adams was able to embrace his mother before he embarks on one more segment of his life journey.