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Memuna's Story
Sierra Leone
August 1999
Age: two years

"Don't waste bullets on her, just cut off her hand."

You might think it was a lucky escape for Memuna Mansaray. But how would you feel if you had to watch armed men kill your grandmother and shoot your mother, and then face a lifetime reminder every time you looked at your amputated right hand?

Two-year-old Memuna and her family escaped their home when rebels invaded the city of Freetown. They hid in a nearby mosque with others from their family, but the armed men were soon banging at the door. Memuna started crying in fear - a cry that signalled to the armed men that people were hiding inside.

That was when they killed her grandmother. Memuna lay down next to her grandmother, but her brother and mother escaped. The commando of the rebels ordered one of the boys to cut off Memuna's hand.

Her mother ran from her hiding place to try and save her daughter, but was shot by one of the rebels. After the rebels left, Memuna's brother bravely tried to save his mother and sister. Sadly, their mother later died.

Today, Memuna lives as an orphan at a camp set up in Freetown for war wounded and amputees. In July 1999, the President of Sierra Leone, Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabba, carried Memuna with him when he signed a peace accord on behalf of the government. She was carried as a symbol of conscience to show the world the brutality of the civil war in Sierra Leone.