For four months, Oprah Show producers have been working on a story about an extraordinary girl. Damba was born in Sierra Leone, a small West African country reeling from atrocities committed during a civil war that began in 1991.
When Damba was 5 years old, her tiny village was attacked by rebels. During the chaos, two men raped Damba and chopped off her hand. Damba's mother, Fina, pleaded for them to let her daughter go. In response, the rebels forced Fina to the ground and chopped off her hand, too.
Despite her own searing pain, Fina managed to hold onto her daughter, carrying her for three days in search of help. The two spent the next three years traveling between refugee camps to evade more rebel attacks.
Then, Damba's life was changed forever. An organization called the Friends of Sierra Leone was offering medical help and a new life in the United States to a small number of young refugees. Fina agreed to let her daughter go. "It was a terrifying moment. I was crying and my mom was crying. She had to let me go because she knew I'd get a better life [in America]," Damba says.
Six years later, 14-year-old Damba is thriving in Alexandria, Virginia. She lives with her guardians, Sahr and Amina, also immigrants from Sierra Leone, whom she calls "uncle" and "aunt."
She says her mother would be very proud of her life in America. Though she goes to school, has many friends and earns good grades, Damba says she misses her mom's "loving touch." Says Damba, "I miss the way she'd cuddle me up."
Damba hopes to help the family she left behind in Sierra Leone in any way she can, and she dreams of seeing them again. The day she sees her mom again "is going to be the best moment of my life."
After six long years, Damba is finally reunited with her mother—and her new baby brother!
"You have an amazing mother," Oprah tells Damba. "If all the mothers in the world were like your mother, this would be a different kind of world. We are honored to have you here." The Oprah Show arranged for Fina and Srenke to spend a few weeks in America with Damba before they head back home.
This joyous reunion wasn't just a dream come true for Damba and Fina—it was a dream for Oprah's producers too. They worked for four months to arrange for Fina and Srenke's travel to the United States.
Along the way, producer Veronica says they ran into nearly every roadblock imaginable. "It was everything from a computer glitch to airline tickets," she says. "[Fina] had to travel over to Guinea to get her visa and she got stuck there for three weeks because of a computer glitch."
"All we had was hope," Jill says. "That we believed that a woman in Guinea Veronica was speaking to was going to make it happen for us."
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