“Sexual abuse is clearly the worse thing an adult can do to a child. the scars are permanent and many; mental instability, insecurity, lack of or the inability to trust, pornography abuse, sexual promiscuity and the granddaddy of them all, Recidivism or the prey becoming the predator later in life. Yes, we are supposed to be able to discern what is wrong from right however, we are the sum total of our life experiences and ultimately products of our own environment. Needless to say it is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken, abandoned and discontinued. The challenges are unrelenting as we must protect our most precious and valuable resource, our children. The intimidating thing is that the perpetrators in most cases are people trusted with the child’s safety, protection and development, and are so close in proximity we can smell them” (Benson, 2012).
There are and continue to be countless accounts of sexual abuse against children; in education, athletics, clergy, you name it… Further, this behavior can and has reached cultural proportions in some countries, deeper still in some cases it spills over into the human trafficking element. This like many dilemmas incite some into action toward awareness and protection, today we talk to pioneer and founder of Holistic Education Advocation Leadership (HEAL), Ms Mawata Kamara.
Mawata Kamara, the founder of Holistic Education Advocating Leadership (HEAL), a nonprofit organization dedicated to “tackling the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in Liberia and West Africa”. Her decision to start HEAL was born out of Mawata’s childhood experience growing up in a war torn Liberia and having to flee with her family in the late 80’s to Guinea, a refugee camp in Sierra Leone and finally to the United States in the early 90’s
Ms. Kamara comes from a family of strong women, including her mother and elder sister; Linda, whom she credits as being the greatest influence in her life. Mawata graduated from Temple University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and has been working as a Registered Nurse since. While in college, Ms. Kamara was very active on campus and within her community. She was a peer mentor, a resident assistant and had the opportunity to work with the city of Philadelphia “brotherly Love” initiative to help displaced Americans that lost their homes in Louisiana during hurricane Katrina. Ms. Kamara also competed and was the Ms. Liberia, Pennsylvania in 2006. She is also a two time recipient of the Temple University’s “diamond award”, the highest award that can awarded to a Temple University student for leadership and resident assistant of the year. She has worked at prestigious John Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, a traveling nurse, she currently works at Christiana Hospital in Delaware.
HEAL, Holistic Education Advocating Leadership reflects Mawata’s philosophy that one’s struggle from the past does not dictate the future. HEAL aims to provide and expose people to events and resources that allow them to holistically heal from past pitfalls, mistakes and life’s events, while also empowering them to continue to move forward. HEAL also works hard to address the epidemic of rape and sexual assault of women and children in Liberia and other African communities through education, advocacy, awareness campaigns and ultimately providing forensic services that will help bring perpetrators to justice.
HEAL’s immediate and current target audience are victims of rape and sexual assault in Liberia. Beginning in Liberia was driven by Mawata’s roots and connection to there as well as the prevalence of rape and sexual assault in the country due to its violent past. Liberia has had an alarming rate of rape and sexual assault for over a decade. HEAL’s passion is fueled by UN reports indicating that three children are raped daily in Liberia and 1,300 women in the past nine months. HEAL also works to bring modern law enforcement techniques to Liberia. This is due to the lack of concrete evidence, and the non use of DNA forensics make rape a virtually unpunished crime in her native land. HEAL strives to address these issues and many more.