Keeping the light of perseverance on
9th November 2021
Despite being bullied as a child for his stammer, Abu Abraham Kamara tells us how the prospect of a better future, together with his mother's words of encouragement, gave him the motivation to succeed.
I'm Abu Abraham and I'm a 20-yr-old Liberian born into a typical African family. I am the third of five children, with a big brother and sister, and two younger brothers.
My dad was a graduate who went on to teach in several government schools in Liberia and the Republic of Guinea, when our country was under civil unrest. This was before I was even born. To provide for us, he taught at a high school while my mother sold items just to ensure we didn't sleep hungry. She is a very strong African woman with no education but a very unique entrepreneurial spirit. Some of the things I can still remember her selling were fish, rubber dishes, water, etc. Even up till now, she is still selling things.
I became very studious
While my parents were away looking for money to feed us, it was my big sister who looked after me. For this reason, she didn't start school until later and had to wait for me to get ready for class each day so that we could go to school together while she still monitored me. This meant that, as big as she was, we sat in the same class at nursery.
My sister and I both developed stammers. We used to be mocked and bullied by our peers. Despite this, we kept strong on our quest for education. Because of my stuttering, and knowing the financial condition of my parents, I became very studious, getting excellent grades that helped me achieve scholarships, because it was impossible for my parents to provide for the tuition for me and my sister. Thus, I received my education from schools that saw academic potential behind my stutter.
As I grew older, my desperation to help my family get out of their difficult financial condition resulted in lots of tension, and my stammer became very severe. I felt humiliated one morning in class as I was asked to read out a pamphlet on my favourite subject, economics. I couldn't read a word due to my stammer. I became ashamed, with my eyes turning red while perspiring as if I was jogging. Through all this I had no choice but to keep the light of perseverance on.
My mother continues to encourage and motivate me in not allowing my stammer to stop me from seeking opportunities to continue my education. She told me that nothing is wrong with me... She taught me to believe in myself.
I went on to become President of the student Council and I graduated from high school as one of the top performing students. Just one week after my high school graduation, our dad died. My mother couldn't afford to pay my college fees, so I went on to seek local and international scholarships. For these I sat several aptitude tests and was selected for about eight scholarship interviews in total. I was rejected in all of them, I think because of my stammer — I couldn't express myself like other students could. I thought about giving up and doing something far away from talking.
I keep on moving
My mother continues to encourage and motivate me in not allowing stammering to stop me from seeking opportunities to continue my education. She told me that nothing is wrong with me and it is not my fault that I stammer. She taught me to believe in myself. Based on her words, I applied for a scholarship at the Albukhary International University in Malaysia and was selected. I am there now, currently studying Human Resource Management.
I stammer, sometimes severely, but I have decided not to give up. I owe it to my mother and siblings to keep on moving in order to ensure a better future for us all. I sometimes feel anxious and depressed about talking. I feel it is affecting my growth but I have to keep moving. Whenever I feel embarrassed or ashamed because of my stammer, I say to myself, "I am blessed. Some people can't talk at all. It may take me a long time to say a word, but I can".
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