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As a young child in Sierra Leone, Martha was told that she looked like her mother so she spent hours in front of the mirror, trying to glean from her own features an image of the mother she lost as a toddler. Martha's father, a successful businessman, doted on his daughter, showering her with new clothes every week and taking her to school every morning.

In 2000, when Martha was eight years old, her village was attacked by members of the Revolutionary United Front, who were fighting to depose the government. As the sound of gunfire rang throughout the neighbourhood, Martha and her father stayed locked inside their house for over a week, waiting for the fighting to subside.

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