Lending a Hand in Africa
Blamah Sarnor ’06 lends his business acumen to school-building efforts
by Cristina Rouvalis

As a child growing up near Philadelphia, Blamah Sarnor ’06 would hear stories about the aunts and uncles he never met — the ones who were killed in the civil war in Liberia.

His mother, Roseline Queh-Sarnor, grew up in the West African country but came to the United States on a college scholarship. She couldn’t predict the chaos and bloodshed that would ravage her homeland when a civil war began in 1989. The atrocities would claim some of her family and loved ones. “It was very tough hearing what my mother went through,” Sarnor says.

Blamah Sarnor ’06
Photo: Chris Grant
The idea of community engagement is key to the KEDO mission, says Blamah Sarnor ’06.
Roseline never forgot the people from her tiny, war-torn village of Kpalo-Bli in southeastern Liberia. Sarnor, a management major, helped her start the Kpalo-Bli Education & Development Organization, called KEDO, in 2009. While his mother serves as executive director, Blamah is a board of directors member. The 501(c)(3)- based charity’s first project: a school that opened in 2014 for some 67 students. Now village children no longer must trek 90 minutes on foot, traversing a makeshift bridge, to attend school in a neighboring village. “They literally were risking their lives to go to school,” he says.

Sarnor says the business and management skills he learned at Bucknell helped him not only start his Coatesville, Pa.-based company, Web Collaborative, but also provide KEDO with marketing and fundraising expertise.

Now KEDO must raise $75,000 to build a health clinic in the village by March, before the rainy season hits. The project addresses another fundamental challenge for Liberia, which has the fifth-highest maternal mortality rate in the world. One in every 11 Liberian children dies before reaching their 5th birthday. “Education is great, but not if kids can’t go to school because they are sick or if their mothers lose their lives in childbirth,” Sarnor says.