Turning a tragedy into a purpose
Marie is a passionate young lady, who was born and raised in the community of Gloucester Village, part of the Western region of Sierra Leona.
Victim of teenage pregnancy, did not receive any support or protection as a victim. Instead, she was discriminated, bullied, molested, and even mocked. However, these challenging times, her experience worked for good when her pain become a need to raise her voice to advocate for other women that went through the same as she. As she recalls “I needed to speak, I needed to tell people my story, to influence people and also let them stay further and focus on whatever thing they are doing”.
This was how Marie started her mediation and peacebuilding journey. Generating conscious, educating the community about customs and actions that develop into violence; raising and converting her voice into a powerful tool for peace. “I am using my story and all other challenges to inspire people, that despite you being bullied or marginalized, all is not lost. You can be the best you wanted to be”.
Becoming part of MBBI
The year of 2019 she was part of a group of young people that got a training in peacebuilding for MBBI. Giving Marie the tools as a young leader and woman, to face gender prejudice and discrimination within her community leader role. MBBI become family, a supporter, and a mentor as she relates “my MBBI family. There are times when I have trauma or stress. When we have this session, I normally explain to them, and all of my colleagues will encourage me, to give me a word of advice and that will make me strong and make me going. Actually, it has not being easy, but with the help of others I have being pushing through”.
Who do you think should join MBBI and why?
“The reason why somebody should join MBBI: firstly, to network and also to get more ideas, especially for peacebuilding. Also, the person that wants to be part of MBBI should be a person that has passion for humanitarian, to volunteer, to take the risk if I could say, and making sure you serve humanity. But above that I said, you need to have the passion. Because if you do not have the passion in whatever you are doing you will never succeed”.
Part of becoming a new family member of the Mediators Beyond Borders International Organization is been to feel the support and advice from MBBI coaches such as Loretta Raider; the exchange of ideas and expertise shared by other members during workshops and group meetings. Besides, her heart contributions for peacebuilding in her community led her be one of the speakers at the MBBI Annual Congress in 2019 in Bali, Indonesia.
She volunteered for over 10 years, taking part in conflict management, and resolution. Together with DECOVERC, community leaders and stakeholders they have been engaging in community peace dialogue and have resolved many conflicts within communities. After years of intense volunteering work, she has also received training in peacebuilding and a certificate in teaching. Which has helped her in educating young people, public servers, community leaders and civilians through talk shops, circles of peace and community conversations to bring awareness that violence led to poverty and affects the most vulnerable community members such as woman, children, and elderly. Instead, using mediation tools such as validation, and negotiation new strategies has been generated to stop conflict and more recently violent events. As in the middle of the COVID-19 her district was declared a red zone for violence, as Marie explains “One morning there was a shot, and I was called upon. It was really taught, like a war, people making fire, a lot of people lost their lives. There was lock down because we were in the middle of the Covid 19. What I did together with my colleagues, we started calling circles of dialogue, we started engaging the head of the district. We advocated and engaged with this people, they listened to us and left the violence. We bring them together, we engaged them all, we did a peace match, after a dialogue session. They all signed that we all are going to give peace a chance and they are going to be an example to other communities.” A lot of development has taken place since then. Now for instance, the young are taking the lead and the community is supporting what they do.
Due to her outstanding contribution to peace development in the Western region of Sierra Leone, she has received several awards such as Thirty most influential women in western Area Rural District for the third times in 2018, 2019, and 2022; Outstanding Youth advocate; Youths and child Ambassador; Amity and good will ambassador; Most influential Youth mentor 2021/2022; and Exceptional award.
What are the keys for a good mediator?
Ms. Bangura has developed a life career not only as a peacebuilder, humanitarian, and community leader but also as a mediator. Her advice about what makes a good mediator is “Firstly, you need to be patient, you need to be a good listener, in character you need to be lovely, be kind to the people you work with, and the community you are going in, any area you are going you need to be patient, be kind, lovely, and above all has passion. Be sure you are ready to learn, and always be an example to others. People should always want to be close to you, will be using you as an example, and you should be ready to motivate others”.
No doubt that Marie Banguras story is an inspirational one, a role model and an example that bad experiences do not determine the end of a life. Instead, they can be turned into a purpose and a meaningful way to serve others.
Article by Francini Umanzor, MBBI Writer