Moses Kamara’s typically broad smile is even broader and brighter these days.
“I’m happy, I’m just happy,” he grins, as he sits in the driver’s seat of his new 2001 Toyota Highlander.
Kamara worked as a professional driver for 12 years in Sierra Leone before coming to Canada in 2014 with his wife Deborah, who is from Salmon Arm.
He drove in B.C. for three months with his international driver’s licence before the government took it away, informing him he needed to take the provincial test.
Although he speaks English, he doesn’t read well. Because of poverty, he couldn’t attend school in Sierra Leone and had to start working at an early age.
So when it came to B.C.’s written exam, he was in trouble. After failing seven times, he was finally allowed to have someone read the questions to him. Voila, he passed.
However, in a nasty twist of fate, two days after he passed the test, another road block arose.
When he went outside his home in the morning, he was shocked. The couple’s ’99 Honda Civic was gone.
Police found it two days later in Enderby, damaged beyond repair by the thief or thieves who stole it. The insurance money wasn’t enough to buy a new vehicle.
The Observer published an article about his predicament, and a woman who had never met Moses set up a Go Fund Me account for him, with a goal of $2,000. Other media outlets soon picked up the story.
The Go Fund Me account reached its goal and last month Moses received about $1,840 – that’s minus the approximate eight per cent taken off the online accounts.
“I never ever dreamed of this – it’s just a big surprise for me, and a blessing. People are so generous to me,” he smiles. “I never knew what is Go Fund Me – and people just started giving.”
The couple began looking carefully for a replacement vehicle. They found one online and immediately phoned the owner who was selling it because she was heading to Australia to work as a midwife.
“She was so friendly and nice. She helped us, she helped us a lot,” he says.
On Wednesday, Feb. 6, the Kamaras drove the vehicle home. Moses describes the night before they went.
“I don’t sleep – I was just laughing to myself. My wife said, ‘what’s happened?’ I said, ‘I’m just thinking about the car.’”
Moses gushes with gratitude about people’s generosity.
“God blesses people and God blesses me. Me and my wife want to say thanks and appreciation – thanks to the lady that started this Go Fund Me. We just want to say thank you to all the people who donated for us to get this gift. It’s a blessing and we really appreciate it.”
He says he wishes he could meet every person who donated to thank them personally.
“Whoever they are and wherever they are, I want to say thank you and God bless them. It means a lot.”
He’s grateful to the media, too.
He also points out that people in town have come up to him and given him money, particularly those associated with soccer, which he loves to play.
Even last week, someone at a soccer game offered him money. He explained he’d already bought the vehicle, but they wanted him to take it anyway, suggesting he use it for gas.
The cost of insurance has been a surprise to Moses.
He is over 30, but insurance for his new-to-him 2001 vehicle is $1,121 for six months.
Although he drove professionally in Sierra Leone, he can’t produce the insurance history that ICBC requires. That’s because, there, the company registers the vehicles for insurance, not the driver, and he didn’t own his own vehicle.
Driving in snow is a brand new experience, but Moses is enjoying it.
“If you’re a disciplined or careful driver, you don’t have to speed. If you speed (in the snow), you find yourself somewhere else,” he says, pointing towards the side of the road. “I drive with caution and give distance.”
He shows the inside of his new vehicle, which he’s keeping as spotless as the outside. He smiles broadly when he points out that the SUV has a great sound system.
“I am a happy man. I have my licence, and a vehicle, and I promise to take care of it properly. It’s like my baby.”
Moses emphasizes once again how grateful he and Deborah are.
“We really appreciate people. It’s like I belong in Salmon Arm. I fit here, and everywhere people just bless me.”