This episode is part one of a series. Although the interview took place during a single session, we elected to break it into several episodes. Warning, the content can be somewhat graphic in truthfully depicting the violence that Nabs experienced as a child during the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone. Part One takes us from Nab’s early childhood through the time of his initial escape from the rebel soldiers who were hunting him.
Emmanuel Nabieu is the HCW Director of Mission Advancement and Partnership Development - whom we all call Nabs.
We asked our dear friend, Rev. Rob Lough, former Pastor at Ebenezer UMC and long time supporter of the work being done at HCW, to guest host this episode.
This is a story about resilience and transformation. It is both Nabs’ life story and also a beautiful testimony for hope and overcoming trauma. Nabs is using his experience living in an orphanage to bring global awareness and change to child welfare institutions. He is an example that we as humans can overcome difficult circumstances and use them to create something unexpected and positive. According to Nabs, he wrote this book as a way to address and overcome his trauma. He says that digging back into the past is a hard thing to do but was a huge part of his healing process.
Nabs was raised in a rural village in Sierra Leone. His childhood was brutally interrupted by the civil war there when he was about 8 years old. When their village was attacked, Nabs' life was shattered. He initially recalls a bucolic, though impoverished, childhood in rural Africa, where scraping adequate nourishment from their labors was the number one struggle, and he was surrounded by the love of his family and the joys of camaraderie with his boyhood friends. He describes his rural life as he and his friends begin to explore what it means to follow your dreams, and the wisdom of his elders as they try to imbue his future with hope and resilience.
Then he shares how his early life of hope and innocence transformed almost overnight into a nightmarish existence of fear and uncertainty that overtook his entire family. After hiding together in the bush and in holes dug for latrines at the family farm, and nearly escaping, a unexpected ambush separates Nabs from his parents, some of whom are murdered before his eyes. Always trying to find his way back to family, he survives without them for months in the jungle, and then on the urban streets of Bo, as the war began to draw to a close.
Eventually, he was brought into an orphanage. After living there for 10 years, he was finally reunited with his family. But his story doesn’t stop there. He went to university and after he graduated he returned to the orphanage where he was raised where he later became the Director and used his passion and experiences to lead the transition from institutional care to family based care. He now works for Helping Children Worldwide as the Director for Mission Advancement and Partnership. His work brings this vital message on the importance of family to a global stage.