From Child Soldier to Human Rights Activist - Mohamed Sidibay

Mohamed Sidibay's Journey

Once a former child soldier, Mohamed Sidibay is now a leading advocate for the rights of all children to access to quality education. Mohamed graduated from George Washington University with a degree in Peace and Conflict Resolution. He spent several summers interning with MY HERO and helping us with global outreach and youth training. Today he is working with several not for profit organizations and the UN to give voice to the 260,000,000 young people who do not have a chance to go to school. Below are stories and films that feature Mohamed Sidibay and some of the heroes he has met along the way. MY HERO is grateful to Mohamed for his leadership and support for youth around the world!

Mohamed Sidibay
Credit: MY HERO

In a world where the media sensationalizes violence, the importance of organizations like MY HERO cannot be understated. MY HERO came at a time in my life when my world was in completed disarray. Unable to understand the world outside of the one I had grown up in, MY HERO taught me the true meaning of life by empowering me through the use of media and storytelling."

- Mohamed Sidibay

Mohamed Sidibay is a survivor of a horrific civil war in Sierra Leone, where he was forced to fight as a child soldier. Now he advocates for better access to education worldwide.
mohamed sidibay teaching peace
Credit: anabelle vo
Mohamed Sidibay with His Holiness The Dalai Lama Mohamed Sidibay

Mohamed Sidibay reports:

Kailash Satyarthi is the embodiment of The MY HERO Project purpose. He is a timeless hero, a true champion for children, and a gift to those he touches. Since 1980, he has been fighting to end child labor and human trafficking around the world. He and his foundation have rescued over 85,000 children worldwide I had the honor of first meeting this wonderful man in 2015, at the United Nations General Assembly, "A World at School Town Hall, where I spoke about my experience of being a child soldier in Sierra Leone, and where he was being honored for his tireless effort to end human trafficking and child labor.

A few months after our first encounter I was in Colombia teaching English to underprivileged youths, and I was nominated and selected to serve as a Youth Commissioner on a high level panel called, "The Education Commission on Financing Global Education." To my surprise and excitement, I learned that Kailash was also a member of this panel. When I found myself sitting next to him a few months later, and we were delivering our report to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Kailash and I picked up, right where we had left off...

Kailish told me about his new campaign, the 100millionfor100million Project. I immediately wanted to become involved. "Our goal is to get 100 million children and people with access to resources to pledge to help another 100 million without access to quality education." How could I not be part of this project? Yes was the word that soon followed when he asked if I would like to be involved.

With Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee Mohamed Sidibay
With Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi Mohamed Sidibay

On a long flight to Dubai and then New Delhi 3 months later, I couldn't hold my excitement.     I was going to attend the launch of Kailish's program,

My first excitement was that I was going meet my hero, his holiness, the Dalai Lama. Three hours after my arrival, I found myself at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi for the opening ceremony of this wonderful event.

This was the largest ever gathering of Nobel laureates and world leaders. And there I was, sitting and speaking to some familiar faces of activists and world leaders that I have worked with over the years. Being in a room with so much of India's history, I began to wonder if something would actually happen by the end of that event; if the anger felt by everyone in that room regarding child labor and human trafficking would not just be a viral moment of anger but something that would transform into a movement for change.

With UNAIDS special advisor Lorena Castillo De Varela Mohamed Sidibay


We all sometimes find ourselves asking God to bring world peace. But if I were to encounter God or any of his messengers and ask them to bring world peace, they will not be able to help us because war is a by product of man. And only man can bring peace. And Peace must first begin in the mind, body and soul." Those were the words of a man who has given so much love and care to the world, his holiness the Dalai Lama.


The first words that came out of my mouth when I spoke with his holiness was "you are my hero." His response was something I was unprepared for. "You my child are the hero. For despite what you went through you keep on fighting to bring hope to others." I am not someone who cries often, but I would be lying if I said tears had not filled my eyes.


Empowered by his words and as a representative of youth around the world who have been denied access and opportunity, it was my responsibility to ask those present to think about the urgency of the issue at hand- to deliver on the promises made on that day.

The collective power, courage and strength of the people in that room were capable of effecting change... and change they must effect.

When the people that have been rescued by Kailash and his foundation began to speak about the horrors they have experienced, I again pleaded to the leaders not just to listen to their stories and respond, but to listen - to understand - to walk in their shoes, feel their pain and desperation. Then, they must ask themselves - how much urgency is needed to bring an end to the injustice and inequality face by the marginalized children of the world?


I left that summit as a youth leader pledging to do whatever is needed of me to help Nobel laureate Kailash continue this huge movement of getting 100 million people to help another 100 million gain access to quality education.

Mohamed Sidibay with Students Mohamed Sidibay

More content about MOHAMED SIDIBAY on MY HERO

Beyond Borders

Chronicling Mohammed Sidibay's transition from child soldier to freedom

International Day of Peace '14 (full)

Producer: The MY HERO Project
International Day of Peace '14. Mohamed Sidibay:My Journey From Child soldier to Peace Activist

Mohamed Sidibay

By: Annie Merkley
Mohamed Sidibay speaks out to give a name and a face behind the stories of child soldiers.

Evelyn Seubert

By: Mohamed Sidibay
A media art educator changing the world one camera lens at a time

Organizer created on 12/27/2016 1:16:33 PM by Pace Porter-Zasada

Last edited 11/18/2019 10:43:10 AM by Laura Nietzer