Amara Bangura is a BBC radio journalist and Master’s degree student in Media and International Development. He left his Sierra Leone home in September 2014 to start his studies in the midst of the Ebola outbreak.
Although the outbreak made the move difficult, especially when it came to fulfilling visa requirements, Amara was committed to furthering his education to benefit his country.
He said: “I was determined to come to UEA because I knew this university will help me find answers to the numerous questions I have about the role of the media in development. When I finish my course, I hope to return to Sierra Leone and use the skills and knowledge I have acquired at UEA to help rebuild my country.”
His inspiring passion for journalism originated from a curiosity and enthusiasm to share the stories of Sierra Leonean people who experienced the civil war, which broke out in 1991. Amara was just 19 when the rebels attacked his village in Northern Sierra Leone.
Once the civil war was officially over in 2002, Amara began to develop an interest in the media and its impact during conflict. He volunteered at a community radio station set up in his town, and was later recruited by BBC Media Action to report on court proceedings for those responsible for crimes in the civil war.
“People like me were needed to tell stories of the war because we saw it all.”
As a public broadcaster, Amara considered it his goal to change descriptions of this country from a ‘failed’ or ‘fragile’ state to instead be a 'promising state' and a 'country of investment with a brighter future'. He remains dedicated to changing perceptions, even throughout the recent Ebola crisis, which hit when he was studying journalism at Massey College, University of Toronto.
He returned home to help the struggle against the deadly disease, launching a radio show called 'Kick Ebola out of Sierra Leone' which tackled the deniers and informed communities with basic health information on how to stay safe.
Studying International Development is a huge stepping stone for leaders like Amara towards a career that can change the lives of those in the most desperate of situations. By aligning his future goals with individual modules in the programme, he tailored his degree to his interests.
Through his experiences in civil war, a deadly virus, international media storms and two university degrees, Amara has emerged with a bright future where he will represent his country in the media and hold an invaluable position in Ebola education.
"There is a lot to take back home, but one thing I am sure of is that there is a space for media in development, but only if it is used well.”