Hi all, I'm Sheku Sheriff of Brooklyn Park, a suburb of Minneapolis in Minnesota. Beautiful Minneapolis is the most popular City in Minnesota, though twin sister City Saint Paul, just across the Mississippi, is the State capital.
I'm originally from the small West African nation of Sierra Leone, a small country on the African West Coast that shares boundaries with Guinea, Liberia and the Atlantic ocean. From 1991 to the early part of this 2000 decade, Sierra Leone was mired in a vicious civil war that devastated the country's infrastructure and economy and inflicted untold misery on millions of people.
During the war, many Sierra Leoneans who were able left the country. Many fled to avoid rebel atrocities. Sierra Leonean rebels were especially cruel and went on drug induced indiscriminate and wanton rampages of vandalism, hacking off of limbs, murder and other atrocities. Many people also fled to avoid political persecution by both sides in the conflict. Others just wanted a chance to find neutral venues to rebuild their lives.
The United Nations High Commission for refugees and the International Organisation for Migration played a primary role in helping Sierra Leone refugees fleeing the war to find homes to rebuild their lives in mainly Western countries around the world, after spending sometimes years in refugee camps in neighbouring West African States.
Some of us were lucky and privileged to be given the chance resettle in the United States of America. Others were resettled in Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, and other European nations. In short, Sierra Leoneans are now spread out all over the globe and are playing a primary role in helping relatives back home rebuild their lives.
In the United States, Sierra Leoneans are resettled mainly in the states of Maryland, California, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Georgia. We are also found in smaller numbers in virtually every state in the union.
In Minnesota, most Sierra Leoneans reside in the twin cities metro and the surrounding suburbs. We have various organisations that enable us to come together to discuss issues regarding the welfare of our country and help each other in times of joy and loss. Organisations like Tegloma, Serasota, Sierra Leone Union, USLO, Kono Union, SLAI and KDA exist to unite Sierra Leonean. Though we have these different organisations that sometimes have conflicting agendas, we try very hard to do things as Sierra leoneans when we can.
This year all the Associations came together to celebrate our country's independence. We also come together to celebrate births, weddings, funerals and assist each other in times of need.
We even have our own money transfer business, Sankhar Forex, that has branches in Freetown, Bo, Makeni, Kenema, neighbouring countries that allow us to send money to help our relatives back home. Other Sierra Leoneans engage in shipping barrels to Freetown, allowing us to send valuables safely to Sierra Leone. The Pictures below, which were all taken by me show activities by Sierra leoneans in Minnesota.