Yannis Kontos Polaris
"Life As An Amputee"
Young Abu, 7, buttons his father's collar in the
family's shelter in the amputee camp, northwest of Freetown.
Leone's decade-long civil war, an estimated 10,000 innocent people were
maimed by rebels from the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) who developed the
horrific tactic of chopping off the hands or legs of civilians as a way of
sowing terror. Abu Bakarr Kargbo, 31, was amputated by the rebels in the
eastern part of Freetown on January 20, 1999 when the capital came under
siege. Unlike other amputees, he was not given the choice of what version of
'cut arm' or 'cut hand' he wanted - long sleeves or short sleeves. Today, he
lives with his wife and his three children in an abandoned amputee camp
northwest of Freetown. Even though supplies and medical care in the camp have
stopped since 2003, Abu and the rest of the amputees continue to live there
in hope of receiving small help from Christian communities. The Sierra Leone
Truth and Reconciliation Commission declared that the amputees ought to get a
pension but they have seen nothing so far. Abu used to be a building
construction worker. Today, he struggles to support his family by begging in
the streets of Freetown, not far from where he was amputated. He remembers
very well the rebel who mutilated his arms and he waits for the day to meet
him face to face. He will never forget and he is not prepared to forgive.