How One Orphan Helped Change His Own Orphanage To Get Hundreds of Kids Home

Born during Sierra Leone’s brutal, eleven-year civil war, Nabs lost his father at the hands of rebels. He ended up on the streets, and then was taken into an orphanage, where he spent his remaining childhood and teenage years. 

Watch Nab's story here

 

Treated as an orphan, many years later he discovered his mum had actually survived. 

Incredibly, Nabs was reunited with his mother as an adult after so many years apart. 

He realized that just like his own story, many children in orphanages across Sierra Leone had living parents and relatives they could be safely reunited with.

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After attending college, Nabs became the director of the orphanage he grew up in.

Instead of operating as a traditional orphanage, their team began to reunite all of the children safely back with their families.

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Throughout his life, Nabs went through trauma nobody—let alone a child—should ever have to experience. 

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In July 2019, I (Sam Rich) was traveling to Sierra Leone in West Africa to capture stories of transforming orphanages. I’d spent the last decade interviewing and filming those affected by the global orphan crisis, looking for the solutions. Everything changed when I met Nabs.

On more than one occasion—while filming or just on the road—he shared how difficult it was to be disconnected from his family for so many years. “I missed out on so much.” Growing up in an orphanage, he had food to eat—but had very little of the family-orientated culture he needed to help develop and become a healthy adult.

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I expected someone who experienced all of this to live in bitterness, resentment and envy—but Nabs was the opposite. As he shared with me on the road, his mindset began to rub off on me.

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“Turn your how into wow,” he explained. Instead of concentrating on what he lacked, what he had missed out on in childhood—he turned even this into a ‘wow’. This saying still echoes in my mind till this day.

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These experiences could have been used to fuel anger or jealousy. But instead, he focused on giving the children and families of his homeland what he had missed out on. He realized the defining element of a ‘Sweeter Sierra Leone’ was what he had missed—children thriving in safe and loving families.

 

I began to realize that Nab’s mindset wasn’t just a game changer for my own personal life. If it could be taken in by individuals, churches, NGOS, businesses and governments, what a different world this would be!

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In my travels, one of the biggest obstacles I’ve seen and heard from caregivers working in institutions—from potential foster and adoptive parents, and from advocates like myself—are that the "How's" of family-based care can seem to be an unclimbable mountain. 

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But what if we thought a little more like Nabs? 

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What if that mountain of "Hows" became "Wows"? What if we could shift our perspectives beyond just the problems to what a world could be like, what it should be like? What would it be like if millions had healthy families? 

Reunified

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What could it be like if tens of thousands of kids went HOME? – "Wow!" 

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I believe if we had a wow mindset—we could see millions of families, and ultimately societies and nations, thriving instead of just surviving.

 

Yes it will be difficult, yes there will be a lot of "hows" (and more will come).

But as Nabs says, let’s turn those "Hows" into "Wows."

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This mindset shift could actually change the world. 

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This is happening! Nabs is on mission to see one hundred orphanages transition toward reunifying and strengthening families. Learn how 20,000 children separated from families could go home and how you can be a part of this amazing journey

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