CAMILLE MILLAR | August 27, 2019
In this post, we honor the life of Doumba Sannoh, a client of the Safe Families Office.
Amplifying the voices of survivors is the core of my work. But sometimes, despite all advocacy and care, a client does not make it through to survivorship.
On my best days, I get the privilege of helping clients adjust to their new realities—new freedom, new independence. On my worst days, I learn that a client lost their life.
Doumba Sannoh was born on January 16th, 2001 in Sierra Leone. She passed away on August 5th, 2018 in Riverdale, Georgia.
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Doumba was born into love. She was born into light. And she was born into conflict.
Two months after Doumba’s birth, the decade-long armed conflict that ravished Sierra Leone began. In 2005, in an attempt to escape the chaos, the Sannohs sought refuge in the United States. Shortly after arriving in the United States, Mr. Sannoh passed away, leaving Doumba and her mother Cecilia to navigate life together.
“When she was four years old, she liked to lead prayers. Father God, please protect me from any negative spirits and give my mother a lot of money.”
From childhood, Doumba felt the presence of God. She prayed. She prayed for herself, she prayed for friends, and she prayed for her mother. She believed everything she needed she already had.
When Doumba saw her friends going out to dinners with their families, she never asked her mother why they could not do the same.
Doumba knew her mother was doing the best that she could, and she was content. She never asked for more.
“She was a respectful girl. She was very peaceful. She would give her friends her clothing simply because she knew they needed it. I remember when I was at work, even if it was just 50 cents, she would call and ask before taking it. All my friends at work would say, ‘Whoa, you have a good child. My kids would steal it.'”
Entering her teenage years, Doumba found a passion for people. She had a spirit of service.
Cecilia remembers her being very helpful to her family and friends. She was the person that people relied upon in their time of need. She would often borrow her mother’s car to pick up stranded friends.
This passion for people led her to dream of becoming an anesthesiologist—and Doumba was working hard to achieve that dream.
She was a straight-A student.
Two weeks before her 17th birthday, Doumba gave birth to a healthy little boy, Christopher.
She was young; there is no doubt about that, but she rose to the occasion. She loved him. She wanted to protect him.
“She didn’t like cooking. Every time I cooked that is when she would decide to do her homework. I would start making a meal and ask her for help. She would reply, ‘I’m looking through my papers.'”
Doumba Sannoh came with her mother to the Safe Families Office at the beginning of 2018. She obtained a 12-month protective order in February. A short six months later, her respondent murdered her.
When Doumba was in the Safe Families Office, her focus was getting resources for Christopher. She wanted him to have everything he deserved.
Through this tragedy, I have had the opportunity to get to know her mother, Cecilia, better. Through Cecilia’s strength and warmth, I can feel Doumba. I can feel her when Cecilia greets me with a hug and smile no matter the occasion. I can feel Doumba when I get weekly affirmation texts from Cecilia hoping that my weeks are blessed. I can feel her when I look at Christopher as he attempts to crawl in my lap to play with my phone.
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At the Safe Families Office, we do everything in our power to provide the tools and resources to survivors to help them before the unimaginable occurs. We hope that our community will continue to come together to talk about intimate partner abuse, so that we can disrupt the cycle of violence before it peaks.
Doumba’s life and legacy have taught me you cannot measure life in length. The only true measurement is the volume of love that is created.
Social Worker, Safe & Stable Families Project
Camille graduated with a B.S. in Social Work from Georgia State University in May of 2013. She quickly became an Americorps Vista, volunteering in Spartanburg, South Carolina from 2014 to 2015. Through this program, Camille worked at an outpatient drug treatment center. She also worked directly with adults suffering from behavioral health issues, improving health outcomes by connecting people to various community resources.