"The man bent down and picked up a mango... and when I didn't raise my arms to receive the fruit he looked down and saw the bloodied fabric. 'They cut off your hands!', he burst out angrily. 'Those bastard rebels!' ... I raised my arms and managed to take a few bites of the juicy fruit."
Because life so often deals us not one but many hard knocks, the loss of her limbs was but one of many traumas this child would experience including life in a squalid refugee camp, begging in the sprawling streets of Freetown and dealing with the tragic consequences of some violations hidden in her past that would take a long time to fully come to light.
But this is not a book about suffering and victim-hood only. The story of Mariatu Kamara is essentially about the resilience and strength of the human spirit, our ability to overcome indescribable and unspeakable pain and our instinct to fall and rise and rise again. It is about the power of the love of family, community and even complete strangers. Bite of the Mango is a story about the human trait I admire the most of all: courage.
|Mariatu Kamara. Photo source: http://thestar.blogs.com/.a/6a00d8341bf8f353ef013484cb8067970c-900wi|
The media often focus on the trauma people suffer, forgetting to tell us about their ability to recover and the humanity that remains intact. - Ishamel Beah, former child soldier, in the foreword to Bite of the Mango
So where is she now? Mariatu lives in Toronto, Canada where she is studying at George Brown College and is a UNICEF representative for Children in Armed Conflicts. She speaks across North America about her experiences and has hopes of returning to Sierra Leone where she still has family.