Stories produced by St. Peter's Journalism Students
BY DALE TYUS
What do you do, when your town is at war and all you want for your family is safety and a good education? This is the question hundreds of frantic citizens of Sierra Leone pondered during sleeplessness night in village of Free Town, Sierra Leone in West Africa.
Alhaji Omar Jalloh, currently enrolled at Saint Peters College is eternally thankfully his parents made this drastic decision to move him to the United States. Sierra Leone is known for one of the world’s most unbearable civil wars which included a military operation called “Operation No Living Thing.” Fearing for their lives, the Jalloh’s, applied for G-4 Visas to The United States of America.
“It was rough out there in Africa. The schooling was all corrupt. Teachers weren’t getting paid, So no school and the war was getting worse. One day my dad said were moving to the USA,” said Omar Jalloh.
At age nine, Jalloh along with his family of five packed their things and moved to Hackensack, NJ in search of a better life. A G-4 Visa is issued to diplomats and other government officials for travel to the United States.
After elementary school Omar’s parent returned to Africa, after setting Omar and his sibling up in a public school system that allowed them to stay in the United States through the completion of their education, from 4th grade until college. For Jalloh, his time in the U.S. may end in May 2012 following his graduation with an accounting and business law degree.
“I hope to get a job so I can stay in the U.S. If I get a job I can gain my citizenship through the company and not go back home unless to visit,” said Omar.
In Free Town, Sierra Leone, Omar said education was almost impossible to get. Because of the conflict, teachers were out of work and children did not attend schools. This war, started by a lucrative diamond trade, lasted from 1991-2002, leaving hundreds and thousands of people dead. Omar has no desire to move back home.
“Maybe I don’t want to move back because it brings old, hurtful memories plus I’ve grown accustom to American living. Got my education, new friend and overall a better life. I’m here to stay; Hopefully,” he said.