Mariautu Kamara was born and raised in the small village of Magborou in the year 1986 in the West African country of Sierra Leone. She is the daughter of Sampa and Aminatu, although at a very young age, she was sent to live with her aunt Marie and her husband, Alie.
As a twelve-year old child during the civil war in Sierra Leone, both her hands were cut off by rebels who invaded her village. She made her way to the Connaught Hospital in Freetown (along the way she was helped by several strangers), where surgery was performed on her arms to prevent infection. There, she discovered that she was pregnant, having been raped by a man her aunt trusted, and was supposed to marry when she became 16. She later gave birth to a son whom she named Abdul. The child became sick and then died about ten months after birth. After being released from the hospital, Mariatu spent many years begging for money while living at the crowded Aberdeen Amputee Camp. She also became part of a theater group at the camp, and along with many other amputees her age, was able to raise awareness of her country's problems by performing and dancing. Thanks to a UNICEF sponsorship, she was able to move to Canada where she has toured with Free the Children and UNICEF to promote equal rights as well as education.