Mariatu Kamara was born and raised in the West African nation of Sierra Leone. Her harrowing experiences as a child victim of war and its aftermath are the subject of her memoir, The Bite of the Mango (2008).
Today, Mariatu is a college student in Toronto. She was named a UNICEF Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, which involves speaking to groups across North America about her experiences. Prior to her UNICEF engagement, Mariatu spoke publicly for the nonprofit group Free the Children. She has also traveled extensively speaking to high school students and organizations about her physical and emotional journey from a child victim of war in Sierra Leone to a successful author, public speaker and student in Canada. She was recently honored in New York City with a Voices of Courage award given by the Women’s Refugee Commission.
Her professional goals for the future include working for the United Nations, raising awareness of the impact of war on children, and running her own foundation to raise money for a home, and eventually many homes, for abused women and children in Sierra Leone. She is also planning on reuniting several members of Aberdeen’s theater troupe, which she credits with her personal healing. She would like to make this an ongoing project so that she can share with youth the peacekeeping skills that she is learning through her own work with UNICEF and others.
In her spare time, Mariatu likes to listen to music, cook, shop, talk on the phone, watch movies, and go to parties. Most of the time she likes to stay home with family and be with her close friends. She is torn between her love of Sierra Leone and Toronto. She wishes she could live in both places at the same time.