Sarah, as she’s commonly called around her community, says all she ever wanted in her life was the mother she had never seen before.
When Sarah was six months old, her mother Beatrice was at the verge of leaving her anywhere out of desperation. Since giving birth to the child, she had lost her freedom and, trapped in her youth as a new mother, her friends – or so she thought they were – all deserted her.
“Mother took me to my grandmother’s house in Sierra Leone, Freetown in 1980 – my father’s mother – who told her that my father no longer lived there. My mother was devastated. Grandma told me years later that my mother cried as she was redirected back to Liberia. But this trip around, she didn’t want to take along a suckling two month old. So she left me behind.”
According to Sarah, Beatrice panicked and begged her child’s grandmother, Ade, to let her buy a few things in the market before heading back. Ade agreed.
“I didn’t want to take Sarah because I was in an abusive relationship then and was being treated like a prisoner at the time,” Ade recalls. “But I knew in my heart that Beatrice wanted to leave the baby behind and in my heart, I wanted her to.”
Before Ade could make up her mind, Beatrice was gone and had left behind the little girl who would become Ade’s favorite person in life.
Life moved on in the home of Ade with her grandchild and children of her own. She recalls moments where her husband, who was originally from Congo and 10 years older than her, would beat her around, punch her face whenever he had bad day or simply to release his anger for any reason.
“The beatings were too much and on top of that, I was a hard working woman who parched peanuts, sold cold-bowl rice and raised pigs and other crops. Taking care of my seven children, plus Sarah and Tee-wee, was all a burden on me. But nevertheless, that’s what made me a good mother and grandmother, I took it all in,” she said.
Then war hit
Sarah cannot remember when it happened, but when she was 11 years- old, shots being fired in a nearby town caused her family, including her grandmother, to flee. They forgot about Sarah, who laid asleep in one of the bedrooms.
Throughout the war, Sarah managed to tuck herself in an orphanage that looked after the children who went to the Water Key (Port of Freetown) everyday to look for food.
“Every day I would sneak to the port because that was the easiest way to find food. I was able to find food everyday there and somewhere in between my scavenging days, I was taken to an orphanage in one of the counties by peacekeepers. I was blessed,” she recalls.
Meanwhile, Sarah survived the war and eventually had a child of her own at the age of 21. According to Sarah, the bond between the two has always been strained. She feels she might get separated from him just as her mother was with her.
“It’s hard not having a mother or family and not knowing where they are. I have thought of my mother endlessly and wonder where she might be. For the past 10 years, I have been searching for her through every refugee program around the world. My son knows that something is wrong because there are no relatives coming for birthdays, Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas,” she shared.
In March of 2015, Sarah received a call from a woman claiming to be her mother’s youngest sister she had traced from the internet. Though she claimed to have known Sarah, the child Beatrice gave birth too, she made it understood that she did not know Beatrice’s whereabouts.
“She invited me over and we met for the very first time. But there was something totally wrong about my so-called aunt. She had nothing good to say about my mother or any of their relatives. I had become suspicious of her and decided to stay away from her and continue looking for my mother,” Sarah said.
On morning, Sarah remembers feeling depressed, unwanted and at the verge of giving up on the search for her mother she so yearned to see, when a second call came.
“It was my aunt again, but this time she had good news. She told me she had found my mother in Newfoundland, Canada, but that she was not well. She told me that my mother wanted to speak to me, but I couldn’t understand why she didn’t give my number to her,” Sarah recalls.
According to Sarah’s aunt, she wanted to be there while the two talked on the phone, so she refused to give Sarah her mother’s number.
“Some family people are here to destroy rather than build. I know this woman from nowhere and now she is controlling whether I talk to my mother or not. Up till now I have not spoken to her for reasons unknown to me,” Sarah said.
She then shared verbatim what her aunt told her: “Beatrice had a mental breakdown quite recently looking for her children. I tried telling her that I had found Sarah, but she still collapsed. She is a very sad and mentally ill woman, at least that’s what her doctor in Canada told me. I want Sarah to meet her mother but Sarah has children here to take care of, so I suggested that I go to Canada instead of her to take care of her mother who is in a home now.”
In the meantime, Sarah has contacted a refugee program responsible for taking over thousands of refugees to Canada in the past. She has also reached out to various news outlets in hope of attracting a journalist with her story. She feels she is being kept away from her mother and Beatrice could possibly need help.
“I want to see my mother despite the mental challenges they are saying she has. Mental illness can be cured and it’s not her fault, she went through hell during the war and lost many of us. But she needs to know I am here for her, I will never let her go,” Sarah cried. “I’m being deprived of seeing my own mother for selfish reasons unknown to me.”
Sarah has reached out to our reporter in hopes of getting help in reuniting with her mother. Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Beatrice Weah or Beatrice Williams is asked to call 0770-479-189 [email protected]