Meet Patrick Saah

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Wedding day (Sr. Pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Virginia, Warren B. Dawkins stands ready to marry Patrick Saah and Johnetta Mosley).

Despite being the owner of a more appalling, harrowing story than most cinematic horror movies, Patrick Saah generally appears cool, calm, and collected. The West African native and Ward 8 transplant has survived kidnapping, being shot, and a civil war in his homeland of Liberia, but still displays a cheerful countenance.

“I will never forget that day in 1990. It was a tribal war. They [rebel forces] captured us in elementary class. I was in the 4th grade,” said Saah, 44, recalling the civil war (1989 to 2003) and the dramatic period as an 11-year-old when his life changed forever. “We learned later that many of my schoolmates were killed that day.”

Child Soldier
The rebels took those elementary students that they did not kill and forced them into battle. Those pubescent children, hardly teenagers, became collateral and unwilling pawns. Their innocence was hijacked, and their childhoods forfeited.

Saah was in the clutches of the rebel army from 1990 to 1992 with absolutely no contact with family. He suffered a myriad of cruelties—physical and mental—from his captors.

After being outfitted with “an AK-47 rifle and placed on the front line,” his kidnapping abruptly came to a depressing end when he was shot in both legs.

“I lost my left leg and have a plate in my right foot,” Saah said with little emotion on his face. Because he was now useless to the rebels, Saah was left on the battlefield and eventually reunited with his family in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, after initially being cared for and treated at the Yekepa Hospital and released as an amputee.

Soccer: A Way Forward
“In 2007, I decided to use my disability to do something for myself and join the Liberia Amputee Soccer Team. I was selected to play for the National Team,” Saah proudly said noting that he had first joined the Mighty Conquerors which was a Liberian club team.

Patrick Saah won three African Cups of Nations with the Liberian Amputee National Soccer Team. They won the championships – African Cup Nations in 2008 in Liberia; in 2011 in Ghana; and, in 2013 in Kenya.

Amputee football is basically the same as the standard version but with minor exceptions. An amputee is defined as one who is “abbreviated” at or above the wrist or ankle. Fielders may have two hands but one foot. Goalies may have two legs but one hand. The game is played without a prosthesis. Forearm crutches are the norm.

Liberia’s national team was made up of the best members selected from various clubs. Saah played the striker position which is arguably the most important position besides goalkeeper on the football field. Strikers are generally the most advanced players whose primary responsibility is to score goals and assist others.

In 2008, the Cup of Nations for Amputee Football (CANAF) was won by the host African country, Liberia. They narrowly defeated Sierra Leone 1-0 in a hotly contested match.

They won the CANAF again in 2011 by defeating Ghana 3-2 in a penalty shootout finale. The team won a third CANAF in Kenya by beating Angola 6-5 in another penalty shootout and making Liberia a three-time champion. Saah has also traveled and played in Russia with the Mighty Conquerors and in Turkey with the national team.

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Life and Love East of the River
That national team, which included 10 players and five staff, arrived in the United States in 2015 seeking political asylum. The team was housed in a Baltimore homeless shelter when they arrived before being moved to Washington and a New York Avenue shelter.

It was there that Saah met Johnetta Mosley whom he would wed five years later and with whom he now shares an apartment in Anacostia.

“We would talk for hours about his family, my family, his country. Everything. He had a lot of passion. He was determined to tell his story and how [he and his team] were treated [here and back at home]. He was very vocal and even a bit of a hot head,” said Mosley, who worked as a social worker for Catholic Charities at the time.

Mosley is a native of Waynesboro, VA, a small town in the Shenandoah Valley. She came to the nation’s capital in 2000 to provide a better opportunity for her then-young son who had to learn American Sign Language after being diagnosed as hard of hearing. Mosley’s other child, a daughter, was diagnosed with a rare form of thyroid cancer. Both children, now adults, have overcome their adversity.

Patrick Saah coaches (for the love of the sport and no pay) a little league soccer team in 2018. The team’s championship trophies stand by their fee

Besides being a calming influence and support system for Saah, Mosley, 57, is the breadwinner who currently works as the Case Manager for Rapid Housing at the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative located on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.

Wish List – Next Steps
While the amiable and good-natured Saah hopes to become a full-fledged American citizen, he is not idle. He works as a part-time custodian, 20 hours a week, for Goodwill Industries at the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) – Davis Memorial. He also serves as the janitor for St. Teresa of Avila where he works two to three days totaling nearly 20 hours there as well.

Additionally, utilizing his football acuity, Saah has volunteered in recent years as a youth soccer coach. His teams have been successful. Saah is active in the Catholic Church and is a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus and the Worthy Warden of Byrne Council 3877 which represents St. Teresa of Avila and three other parishes East of the River.

Meantime, according to Kevin Brothers, a staff attorney for Catholic Charities DC, who works in the organization’s Immigration Legal Services, “Patrick awaits a decision from USCIS [United States Citizenship and Immigration Services] to adjust his status and get his Green Card. I am surprised that it is taking this long since we sent [Saah’s] medical exam about two months ago. Once that comes through, Patrick will be required to wait the customary three years before being eligible to apply for citizenship.”

Saah is naturally homesick. After finalizing his citizenship, he wants to return to Liberia for a visit to see his now 20-year-old son, Vandarlak Gaga Saah, his siblings (of which he is the eldest of six), and his mother, Kumbah Toffee Saah.

Patrick’s son, Vandarlak Gaga Saah, and Patrick’s mother, Kumbah Toffee Saah).

“I’m heartbroken. I miss my mother. She always asks, ‘I wouldn’t see you before I go?’ whenever I speak to her on the phone. That blows my mind. I am always worrying about my status. Sometimes my [high blood] pressure goes up. Every month I must pay my lawyer $100 [for various fees],” laments Saah whose father died in 2013.

Anyone wishing to make a donation on behalf of Saah can do so by contacting his attorney: Kevin Brothers; Catholic Charities DC; Immigration Legal Services; 924 G Street, NW; Washington, DC 20001 or via email at kevin.brothers@cc-dc.org. Please signify on any check or money order that this is a donation for Patrick Saah.