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I came to know George Shadrack Kamanda by total chance. Said chance was given to me when I was walking to Campion Dining Hall and a sudden strike of coordination failure sent me falling flat onto my face in front of dozens of people. Most people laughed; I mean, who wouldn't? The way I fell looked like a fall you'd see in an old Looney Tunes cartoon. However, one of these onlookers did not. In fact, he'd gotten out of his seat to help me before I had even hit the ground.


That person was George Shadrack Kamanda.   

Up to this point, I had never known George. However, a good friend of mine, one Ian Hocson, had been a friend of George's for quite some time. And by some chance, both George and Ian had chosen that day to meet at Campion for lunch at a table that gave them front row seats to the most epic of faceplants I've ever performed.


Unlike George, Ian was more than content to stay at their table to laugh hysterically at my display of total ineptitude. However, he was nice enough to give George and I a proper introduction once he was able to catch his breath. Here, George made a brilliant show of just how extroverted and friendly he was. Within minutes, I knew that he was from Sierra Leone, Africa (though his rather thick accent was a pretty big hint from the start), his girlfriend's name, his goals and hobbies, and a myriad of other things. I myself am a talkative person, so believe me when I say that George had me totally flummoxed. I had never met someone who could outtalk me before. Ian could see just how taken aback I was by George's outgoing personality, and he laughed even more.


I did my best to keep up with George. It felt like a race just trying to get a word in edgewise. But it didn't bother me though. Everything he said was interesting, and every time I thought he had to be out of things to talk about, he hit me with another story or idea that had my thoughts reeling. That said, when Ian told me he planned to do an interview with George that day, I begged him to let me sit in on it and help. After getting the okay from George, he gave me his okay.

George came to the United States nearly four years ago from his home Freetown, Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is a country in the north-western part of Africa. The country itself has suffered greatly, enduring grueling decade long civil war that left thousands dead and even more without homes. Said conflict claimed the lifes of George's aunt and uncle, whose demise he was forced to witness firsthand in his very early youth. George identifies this tragedy as one of the most horrific and defining moments of his life. 

To make matters worse, the people of Sierra Leone are plagued by poverty, which denies many of its people a proper education, adequate healthcare, and even the most basic and fundamental utilities and foods. Said problems are only exacerbated when in the hands of Sierra Leone's corrupt and ultimately broken government. Many have condemned Sierra Leone's governing body for its total lack of support to its people and its well known tendency to misuse the country's valuable mineral resources by allowing foreign mining companies to strip their home bare and give the people of Sierra Leone nothing in return. George sees this behavior as "a corrupt and inept government selling my people's future with no thought to the long term damage they will bring." 


These conditions made George's early life a very difficult one for both himself and his family. For much of his childhood, George was forced to be hospitalized very often. He suffered from a number of severe medical problems and twice fell into a coma. His family struggled to keep him alive and cared for, going great lengths to ensure his recovery. His mother would constantly tend to him, often praying to God that he would make a full recovery. His family would tend to whatever needs he had, giving all they could give to see George on his feet once more. It was in these days that George's desire and drive to give back and help others was forged. Despite how much he suffered and as bleak as his future seemed, his loved ones did not abandon him. They gave their all to ensure that he would have a future, and George swore that he would see to it that both his family and his fellow men would be given such an oppertunity as he had.

As George grew older, his ailments began to fade. He sought every oppertunity to hone his mind and body to their peak perfection. He devoted nearly all of his time to academics and excercise. He took every oppertunity to learn all he could, and he eventually set his eyes on becoming a doctor. In George's eyes, there was no greater way to help and give back to his fellow man than to become a healer. But fate had another plan in store for him, a plan that may very well have saved his life.


In Sierra Leone, those who are considered of high standing or great importance have been known to vanish without a trace, usually under mysterious circumstances. Chief among the vanished are doctors. Many of George's family and friends pleaded with him not to persue such a risky occupation, and a teacher even ordered him to stop his

pursuit of doctorhood, even going so far as to threaten him with physical punishment. To make matters even more difficult, medicinal training cost a significant amount of money, something George could not afford. Thus, George begrudgingly surrendered to the will of his peers and abandoned his pursuit of a career in medicine. However, he refused to stop trying to help others and sought an alternative way to serve the people of Sierra Leone.


 His alternative came to be social activism. If he could not heal the sick and treat the wounded, he would make sure that the struggles of the downtrodden and poor would not only be heard by the world, but that he would endeavor to remedy their suffering by giving them the oppertunities that he himself had been given. Thus, The George Kamanda Foundation was born.


Knowing firsthand the difficulties faced in acquiring a proper education, George founded this charity organization to aid people in third-world countries in their efforts to achieve a proper education when otherwise they would never recieve one. "I am very lucky to have recieved what I have in life."  Said George at one point. "By the grace of God I was given a chance to learn and grow. Where I come from, where I live, chances like that are worth more than you could ever imagine." George's organization focuses on providing for the youth of Sierra Leone and provides them with what rescources they need for their education. George's greatest hope is that in giving these otherwise unattainable resources to those of his homeland, they will grow into their best selves and perhaps try to give back and help as he did.



George's successes did not go unoticed, attracting the attention of the the United Nations, working with a program which tasked the responsibility of "teaching and mentoring both middle school and high school students about contemporary global issues and their role in changing the status quo by becoming active global citizens themselves". He was even offered a position as a youth delegate of Sierra Leone, but he respectfully declined the offer. "I was too young. I still had much to learn," George commented. "I am positive that if I had said yes, my efforts would have been corrupted." Instead, George sought out an education in the United States, a search that eventually lead him to Saint Joseph's University. "This was not my first choice in schools." George admitted. "I initailly wanted to go to Temple University, but after having spent as much time here as I have, I cannot imagine being anywhere else."

George reads his latest poem, Unknown Rivers

Since his freshman year, George has taken every given oppertunity to broaden his horizons and seek out his passions. One of said passions is his poetry, through which he has expressed his many hopes, fears, victories and failings. However, the most common theme and topic of his writings is his home and how he both loves and fears for it. In one of his most recent poems, titled Unknown Rivers, George puts his strong feelings about the bleak future the Government of Sierra Leone has painted for itself and its people through its countless poorly executed decisions. He often publishes his works on his personal website in hopes that those who find them find meaning in his words and gain some understanding of just how passionate he is about tending to the future of his home even if no one else will.















George is very competitive as well, often working above and beyond to achieve whatever end he sets his eyes upon, and he does not like to lose. It is rare to see him do anything that he doesn't put 100% of his effort into. Even when playing simple games such as Ping-Pong (George's favorite game), he is often seen leaping left and right about the table, decimating his unsuspecting competition. His pride is very noticable as well, sticking out like a sore thumb. He thinks very highly of himself and is very pleased with the progress he has achieved in his lifetime. However, he is not boastful or vain. Though he is quick to share his many achievements, he takes great enjoyment in the work of others, including myself. He pushes people to be the very best they can be and aids them whenever he can. He doesn't beat his chest or gloat. He is humble in his accomplishments and he takes every given oppertunity to praise those of others.







George has also made quite a name for himself on Campus. His outgoing nature, his kind demenor, his impressive wit and intellect, and his tendency to talk circles around anyone has seen to that. His way with words has seen three of his written works into the school's newspaper, The Hawk. His networking skills are second to none. Having witnessed them firsthand, it is clear that George's way with words is wildly successful with those to whom he speaks and works with. His performance at the 2016 Federal Career Fair stands testament to that fact, as by the end of the event, everyone he had taked to was very taken with him. This is made even more impressive by the fact that he conducts his affairs here in his second language, a feat he himself has admitted to be difficult. George claims that writing his pieces in english was the most challenging adjustment he had to make.

As George is Senior, his time at SJU is drawing to a close. He to return to his home to continue the work he has started with his foundation and to reunite with his family, but he intends to continue his studies for a bit longer before he makes the trip home. It never seems as if he is done working, and sometimes its hard to imagine him not doing so. It never seems as if he's satisfied with the help he has provided people and that he simply doesn't believe that he has done enough. But then one remembers how much George is facing and how much work is left to be done. One of George's most popular quotes sums up his mindset perfectly and explains why it is he refuses to rest from his crusade.“Our goals should be to serve humanity and not to terrorize humanity. Our goals should be to make humanity and not to destroy humanity. Our goals should be to globalize humanity and not to localize humanity. If our goals are not to serve humanity then we don’t have a goal”


In George's mind, there is no greater means to live than to give those who have nothing something to live and strive for. He has become the person he always saw in his mother and his family, in the doctors who cared for him, and in all those who cared and supported him. The helper seeks to help because he truly knows what it is to be helpless, and he hopes above all else that through his kindness, charity, and work, he can not only provide the means for his people to have the same oppertunities he had, but to inspire them to streach out a hand to their fellow men as he did. And with every person who meets him, with every person with whom he shares his story, the message that even if a person's story doesn't have the happiest beginning, it is the rest of their story and who they choose to be that matters goes with them.


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